THE Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday, February 13, 2021, said there was no sufficient basis to declare community transmission of the B.1.1.7 variant of Sars-CoV-2 in the Philippines.

In a televised public briefing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said further study is needed to determine the extent of transmission of this new variant.

"This is why we continue to study, assess, and monitor the situation," Vergeire said.

As of February 13, there were 44 variant cases in the Philippines, with 19 reported on February 12.

DOH earlier said there was local transmission of the variant, as evidenced by the cluster of cases of Bontoc, Mountain Province.

Regardless of the level of transmission, Vergeire said what is most important is for the public to continue adhering to the minimum public health standards.

"What we must always do is to strengthen our compliance to the health protocols," saie Vergeire.

These include proper wearing of face masks and full-coverage face shields, frequent hand washing and physical distancing of at least one meter.

The 19 new variant cases announced by the DOH on February 12 included eight returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), three persons with addresses in Davao Region, two with addresses in Calabarzon, and six under verification to classify either as local cases or ROFs.

The B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom in December 2020, has been reported to be highly transmissible than the prevailing form of Sars-CoV-2. (HDT / SunStar Philippines)