With Delta cases in Davao Region, pro-active health response urged

Jul. 27, 2021

Two cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) Delta variant were confirmed among recent patients in Davao Region, one in Davao City and the other in Tagum, the Department of Health (DOH) Davao Region announced on Sunday.

DOH Davao said they had detected 79 variants of concerns among the 593 samples from patients it submitted for genome testing at the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) of the University of the Philippines for the period of June 3 to July 1.

The DOH did not reveal details of the two patients with Delta variants, but the City Government of Davao identified the patient as a 28-year old female who was swabbed on June 26.

Edge Davao reported that the patient is an employee of the Bureau of Fire Protection.  While the Tagum City case is a 22-year old female with no travel history, as Mindanews reported based on the pronouncement of Tagum City Health Officer Dr. Arnel Florendo.

The RESU is now coordinating with the respective local government units to do intensive surveillance to profile the patients, trace the possible sources of infection, which include tracing their travel histories, health status, laboratory, vaccination and isolation status, quarantine periods and locations, and local government unit’s contact tracing activities.

The rest of the 79 cases were detected with Alpha variant cases (27) and 50 Beta Variants.

The World Health Organization (WHO) identified variants as those with increased transmissibility, increased virulence and decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures available.

The Alpha Variant was first traced in the United Kingdom in September 2020, Beta in South Africa in May 2020, Gamma in Brazil in November 2020 and Delta in India in October 2020.

As of July 25, DOH has reported additional 179 Beta variant cases,94 Alpha variant, 55 Delta variant and 9 P.3 variant cases from the 9,351 samples that underwent genome sequencing.

The DOH added that local transmission of variant cases has been detected after clusters of Delta variant cases were seen to be linked to other local cases based on the phylogenetic analysis conducted by the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center, and on the case investigation by the DOH Epidemiology Bureau and the regional and local epidemiology and surveillance units.

The health department advises local governments to enforce strict border control, travel bans from countries with cases of Delta variant and intensify local COVID-19 responses.

“ There is a need to continuously enforce strict border control measures and intensify local COVID-19 responses with the local transmission of the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant in the Philippines. The country has been implementing travel bans and stringent border control measures to delay the entry of the variant, giving the country a headstart to prepare its capacity to manage potential surges,” the department said.

But Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has said there will be no travel bans and border restrictions as the city will continue requiring incoming travelers to take RT-PCR tests.

Meanwhile, the Coalition for People’s Right to Health urges the government  to act proactively and evolve its health system along with the virus in anticipation of surges all over the regions.

The health group said the government should ensure the health system capacities in the region, provide free testing, paid quarantine and proactive vaccination program.  It hinted that government’s lockdowns and protocols are no longer viable solutions to address the surge.

“We are challenging health authorities to finally shift the Covid-19 response to one that realizes the people’s right to health at the level of every community,We cannot claim to be ready for the delta variant surge without hiring more health workers,nor even learning from previous mistakes,” they added.

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