DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 July) — The Department of Health (DOH)-Davao region confirmed Sunday night the detection of 79 cases of the more infectious variants of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the region, including two cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant or B.1.617.2 in Tagum and Davao cities.
In a press release issued Sunday night, the regional DOH said the Delta variant cases have already recovered from the infection but need to undergo isolation, pending repeat swab tests.
The regional health office did not provide profiles of these Delta cases in their press release.
But Health Undersecretary. Leopoldo Vega, former chief of the Southern Philippines Medical Center here, was reported by Edge Davao to have confirmed the first case of Delta variant in Davao City, an employee of the Bureau of Fire Protection the Delta case in Davao City,
The Delta case in Tagum City is a 22-year old female with no recent travel history, according to Dr. Arnel Florendo, head of the City Health Office there.
The DOH-Davao said the variants were detected from among 185 samples sent for whole genome sequencing last July 1 by the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit to the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center.
Other variants detected were Alpha or B.1.1.7 variants with 27 cases and Beta or B.1.351 with 50.
The Alpha and Beta variants were first detected in the UK and South Africa, respectively, while the highly-transmissible Delta variant originally surfaced in India.
The status of Alpha and Beta variant cases was not revealed. No case profiles were released.
The DOH-Davao said the local governments of Davoa and Tagum cities are currently conducting an extensive contact tracing up to third-generation close contacts.
The agency added that the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and local government units are currently conducting intensive surveillance to complete the case profile, back trace to determine the possible source of infection of non-OFW cases and their exposure and travel histories, current health, laboratory, vaccination, and isolation status, quarantine periods and locations, LGU handover information, and conduct contact tracing activities.
It said it will continue to expand their capacities to detect COVID-19 variants.
“Non-adherence and incorrect adherence to minimum public health standards are the drivers of transmission and mutation,” the press release noted as it urged the public to strictly and properly heed the protocols.
It reiterated the need for local government units to strengthen quarantine protocols, testing, and isolation.
Following the latest recommendations of the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 Variants and in line with Department Memorandum No. 2021-0128 or the Interim Guidelines on Routine Biosurveillance for SARS-CoV-2 and Management of Cases with Identified Variants of Concern, cases positive for the Delta variant should have a negative RT-PCR on or after the end of their isolation before they can be tagged “recovered,” regardless if they have completed the 10-day isolation period.
It added that cases that have been released from isolation prior to the detection of the Delta variant shall be required to undergo immediate strict home quarantine pending a negative repeat RT-PCR test while those cases still in isolation shall remain in isolation pending negative repeat RT-PCR test at end of his/her isolation period.
It said any case whose repeat RT-PCR is positive shall remain in isolation but added that the patient can be released from isolation/quarantine if his/her repeat RT-PCR test turns out negative and he/she is asymptomatic.
Separate facilities for cases positive for the Delta variant and for their close contacts is recommended, according to the agency.
As of July 25, DOH-Davao reported 52,819 cases with 7,178 active, 43,903 recoveries, and 1,738 deaths.
Out of the total cases, Davao City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mindanao, logged 29,715 cases with 2,514 active, 26,199 recoveries and 1,002 deaths. Davao de Oro tallied 4,138 cases, Davao del Norte with 10,164, Davao del Sur with 4,412, Davao Occidental with 922 and Davao Oriental with 3,468.
The DOH proposal said it would strengthen the implementation of the prevent-detect-isolate-treat-reintegrate strategies and ensure that the healthcare capacity is ready for possible surge.
“The DOH also reminded the public that the spread of COVID-19 globally, while being controlled by vaccination, is still being driven by the emergence of variants of concern, increased social mobility, and inappropriate use of public health measures,” it said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)