COVID-19 variants on the rise in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 12 Oct) – Health authorities in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) alerted residents over the increasing locally transmitted cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) “variants of concern,” which already reached 150 as of Tuesday.

Region 12. Map courtesy of Google

Dr. Dyan Zubelle Parayao, head of the Department of Health (DOH)-Region 12 epidemiology and surveillance unit, said at least six types of COVID-19 variants have been so far detected in the region and likely triggered the recent surge of infections.

These are the Alpha (United Kingdom), Beta (South African), Gamma (Brazilian), Theta (P.3 or new variant), Delta (Indian), and another only dubbed as “mutation with potential clinical significance.”

Parayao said they recorded 54 infections confirmed as Alpha variant, 47 as Delta, 39 as Beta, seven as Theta, two as mutations of concern, and one as Gamma.

Only nine of the cases involved returning overseas workers and the rest were considered as local cases, she said.

For the highly contagious Delta variant, Parayao said the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and the DOH central office reported 25 new cases in the region on Monday, Oct. 10.

At least 13 of the cases were from South Cotabato, which has the highest number of Delta variant infections in the region so far at 23. North Cotabato has 11 cases, followed by this city with eight, Sultan Kudarat with three, and Sarangani with two.

Citing their assessment, Parayao said the increasing new variant cases were among the factors that triggered the COVID-19 surge in the region in the previous weeks.

The daily infections in the region’s four provinces and four cities started to increase in late August and reached a record 898 cases last Sept. 21.

“This is mainly due to the high transmissibility of the variants of concern, especially with Delta,” Parayao said in a press conference in Koronadal City.

She said they have intensified the biosurveillance in the region in coordination with the rural health units (RHUs) and the molecular laboratories to immediately detect any possible new variant cases.

She said the process, which takes at least three weeks, involves the collection of suspected samples, validation, approval of sample list, and their submission to UP-PGC for whole genome sequencing or analysis of the genetic code.

To ensure early intervention for suspected cases, she said they immediately inform the RHUs about them once they receive the eligible specimen from the laboratories.

“This way, the RHUs and those concerned can already manage the cases as possible variants of concern,” Parayao said.

As of Monday night, Soccsksargen posted a total of 3,359 active cases. The confirmed infections since last year have reached 53,463, with 1,832 related deaths and 48,263 recoveries. (MindaNews)