DOH-12 widens monitoring of new virus strain

Region 12 or Soccsksargen. Map courtesy of Google

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 29 January) – The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) has expanded its surveillance measures against the new mutant strain of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Arjohn Gangoso, DOH-12 health education and promotion officer, said they are closely working with rural health units, public and private hospitals and related facilities to monitor the new cases of COVID-19 that are detected in the area.

He said they are specifically tracking the travel history of the patients to determine if they have had exposure to countries where the highly contagious strain has so far emerged.

Local health offices and hospitals have been sending samples from newly-detected COVID-19 patients in the area to the Philippine Genome Center in Quezon City to check for the presence of the new strain.

“This is our first line of protection. Our goal is to ensure an early detection in case it spreads to our area,” Gangoso said in a radio interview.

As of Friday, the DOH has not yet detected any case in the region of the mutant COVID-19 strain, which first emerged late last year in the United Kingdom.

Gangoso said it is important for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients to properly disclose their travel history, if applicable, to health authorities.

He said that by giving out the right or accurate information, health workers will also be able to make the right interventions.

“If you are not honest with us, the information that we will get would be inaccurate and possibly compromise our efforts to contain the disease,” Gangoso said.

He urged residents to continually comply with the public health measures and protocols against COVID-19, especially the wearing of face mask and face shield, regular handwashing and sanitation, and observance of safe physical distancing.

Everyone should avoid going to crowded and enclosed places, and continue to limit their movement to essential activities and transactions, he said.

“Regardless of the strain, the health protocols are still the same and we should always follow them strictly to reduce the infections and eventually stop its transmission,” he said.

As of Thursday night, the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Region 12 already reached a total of 4,534, with 163 related deaths and 3,880 recoveries.

Gangoso said the recovery rate in the region is currently at 85.5 percent, which means majority of current 490 active cases are expected to fully recover. (MindaNews)