South Cotabato records first case of Beta variant

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 11 August) – Health authorities in South Cotabato reported on Wednesday the province’s first-ever local case of the Beta variant of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) involving a recovered patient.

The South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City. Photo courtesy of Google Street View

Hannah Ebeo, health education and promotion officer of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said the patient is a 29-year-old female from Tantangan town who had a history of travel to Davao City.

She said the case was confirmed on Tuesday by the Department of Health (DOH)-Region 12 through the genome sequencing result released by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC).

Ebeo said the infected resident reportedly traveled to Davao City last July 2 and underwent reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing on July 10 as a walk-in client of the Davao One World Diagnostic Center.

The patient tested positive for COVID-19 based on the test result released on July 13 and was reported by UP-PGC as a Beta variant case on Aug. 9, she said.

“She was asymptomatic and already considered recovered based on the DOH algorithm for the tagging of recoveries,” Ebeo said in a press conference in Koronadal City.

She said the patient’s close contacts were properly traced by the Tantangan rural health unit and none is so far listed as infected.

The variant case is the fifth recorded in the province’s 10 towns and lone city and the first for the Beta strain, which was first detected in South Africa.

DOH-12 earlier reported in April two cases of the Alpha variant (first detected in the United Kingdom), and one each for Gamma variant (first recorded in Brazil), and P.3 or the variant first detected in the country, all involving returning overseas Filipino workers.

Ebeo said they sent 20 specimens to the UP-PGC in May and June but none of them came out positive for any variant.

For July, she said they endorsed 10 more samples for genome sequencing through the DOH-12 and the results are still pending.

With the confirmation of the area’s first local variant case, she urged travelers and returning residents to undergo quarantine and isolation to protect their families and communities.

“We already have cases of new variants, especially the highly contagious Delta strain, in our neighboring provinces and regions so we need to be more cautious,” she said.

Ebeo advised residents to continually observe the health protocols and submit themselves to COVID-19 vaccination once they become eligible.

As of Tuesday night, the IPHO recorded a total of 759 active cases in the province, with 143 patients admitted in various hospitals and 616 undergoing isolation.

The confirmed infections in the area since last year already reached a total of 9,631, with 286 related deaths and 8,586 recoveries. (MindaNews)