Philippines Detects First Local Cases of Delta Variant

The Philippines on Friday reported its first local cases of the more infectious delta coronavirus variant and placed some areas outside the capital under the strictest lockdown. Stocks fell.

Sixteen new delta variant cases were detected in the country, including 11 classified as local cases, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing. The fast-spreading variant is fueling a resurgence in infections across Southeast Asia amid sluggish vaccine rollouts.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 0.5% on Friday, erasing earlier gains after the health agency’s announcement.

Five of the cases are returning overseas Filipinos, one of whom arrived from the U.K. on April 26. Six patients are in the southern island of Mindanao and are part of “a large cluster of cases,” while two were detected in Metro Manila, Vergeire said. One of the patients in the capital died, while all others have recovered.

The Philippines --- which has the second-highest Covid-19 cases in Southeast Asia at nearly 1.5 million and more than 26,000 deaths as of Friday -- will boost testing and tracing and ensure that hospitals are “ready for a surge,” Vergeire said.

Cagayan de Oro, among the most populous cities in southern Philippines, will be placed under the tighest movement restrictions until end-July, along with Iloilo province and two other areas, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said. The government earlier extended the second-loosest curbs in the capital to until the end of July.

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