The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday confirmed the first local fatality of the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing that the death was recorded in the National Capitol Region who died on June 28 in a hospital.

The fatality was one of the 16 new cases of the Delta variant reported on Friday bringing the total Delta variant cases detected in the country to 35 by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC).

Out of the new cases, 11 have no history of foreign travel and five are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

Vergeire added that of the 11 local cases, three cases were from the National Capital Region (NCR) which included the lone fatality. Another was an outpatient who became symptomatic on June 23. The third who was tested in NCR but with a home address in Pampanga started manifesting symptoms on June 27. The two patients have recovered from the illness.

According to the health official, the three NCR cases “have no known connection to each other”.

Region 10, or Northern Mindanao, recorded six cases and according to Vergeire “are part of a large cluster of cases”. She added that they became symptomatic between June 23 and June 28. All have, so far, recovered.

Two cases were from Region 6, or Western Visayas. The patients became symptomatic on May 27 and are now fully recovered.

The announcement prompted the national government to put the provinces where these were detected under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which has the strictest level of restrictions.

Iloilo province, including its capital Iloilo City, and Cagayan de Oro City and Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental province under ECQ until July 31.

“The DOH is in close coordination with the Centers for Health Development and local government units to ensure that all cases have been or are appropriately traced and managed,” Vergeire said.

The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was first identified in India. It is blamed for the surge in cases ravaging most of Southeast Asia particularly Indonesia.

As of July 11, 111 countries have reported Delta variant cases.

The World Health Organization said the world should expect the Delta variant to be “the dominant Covid-19 strain circulating worldwide, if it isn’t already.” – Rommel F. Lopez