17 more COVID-19 Delta variant cases detected — DOH

Maris Federez   •   July 25, 2021   •   337

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH), the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) reported the detection of 17 more Delta (B.1.617.2) variant cases in the country.

According to the three agencies ‘ joint statement released on Saturday, July 24, the detection of the additional 17 brought the total Delta variant cases to 64.

Of the additional 17 Delta variant cases, 12 are local cases, one is a Returning Overseas Filipino (ROF), and four are still under verification as to whether they are local or ROF cases, the statement said.

It added that of the 12 local cases nine had an indicated address in the National Capital Region (NCR), while three were from Calabarzon Region.

Three cases remain active, while 14 have been tagged as recovered.

Meanwhile, the group has also detected 11 more Alpha (B.1.1.7), 13 Beta (B.1.351), and two P.3 variant cases on the latest batch of whole-genome sequencing.

The statement said that of the additional 11 Alpha variant cases, 10 were local cases and one is currently being verified.

Based on the case line list, one remains active, seven cases have died, and three cases have been tagged as recovered.

This brings the total Alpha variant cases to 1,679, the report said.

The report further said that the additional 13 Beta variant cases are composed of 10 local and three under verification cases.

Ten of the cases have already recovered and only one is still active. Two cases, however, had reportedly died.

The recorded data showed that the total Beta variant cases are now at 1,840.

Meanwhile, both recently detected P.3 variant cases have been tagged as recovered. One is a local case and the other is still being verified if it is a local or an ROF case.

The report said that the samples taken from seafarers of M/V Tug Clyde and Barge Claudia have been included in the next batch of whole-genome sequencing.

With the announcement of local transmissions of the Delta variant, the DOH emphasized the need to ensure active case finding, aggressive contact tracing, increased risk-based and targeted testing, and the immediate isolation/quarantine of suspect/probable cases and close contacts.

The health department advises the public to strictly adhere to the minimum public health standards, have themselves inoculated, and complete their vaccine doses as scheduled.

Omicron variant, ‘mild’ kumpara sa Delta variant pero hindi dapat balewalain – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 11, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Nanawagan ang Department of Health (DOH) sa publiko na manatiling alerto huwag balewalain ang pagkalat ng Omicron at Delta variants sa Pilipinas.

Ayon kay Infectious Disease Expert at DOH Technical Advisory Group member, Dr. Edsel Salvaña, hindi dapat ikonsiderang mild disease lang ang maidudulot ng Omicron variant kahit hindi ito kasing agresibo ng Delta.

“We’re not calling Omicron mild. It is milder than Delta. Delta is 3 times more likely to land you in hospital compared to omicron but omicron can still land you in hospital,” ani Salvaña.

Paliwanag ng eksperto, mas mabilis kumalat o makahawa ang Omicron kumpara sa Delta variant batay sa incubation period nito. May 30 mutations rin ang Omicron sa spike protein kumpara sa orihinal na coronavirus at maaaring makapasok sa selyula ng tao.

“For Omicron, it’s about 3 days and if you consider that people are already contagious 1-2 days before they are symptomatic, for Omicron you are almost contagious just a little over 24 hours, so it is very, very difficult to contain something like that,” paliwanag ni Salvaña.

Ayon naman kay DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, kaunti lang ang naitatalang severe cases ng COVID-19 sa Metro Manila sa kabila ng pagtaas ng mga kaso.

Ito ay dahil aniya sa malawak na vaccination coverage at hindi dahil sa pagiging mild ng Omicron kumpara sa Delta.

“Even though it’s mild kapag tumama sa vulnerable na populasyon maaari pa rin silang magkaroon ng severe infections kaya kailangan lang po talagang na maintindihan natin that the vaccines have protected us and it is showing us that it can protect us,” dagdag pa ni Vergeire.

Samanjtala, ayon naman kay IATF Data Analytics Expert Group member Dr. John Wong, dapat mapaatas ang vaccination coverage ng Visayas at Mindanao region para hindi malala ang maging epekto ng Omicron sa kanila.

Katunayan aniya nasa 35% pa lang vaccination rate sa mga nasa labas ng Metro Manila kung ikukumpara sa 75% na vaccination rate sa rehiyon

“Before the surge arises in other areas we have to vaccinate them at a very high level,” ani Wong.

Maliban sa Omicron ay patuloy ring kumakalat sa bansa ang Delta variant, kaya panawagan ng DOH sa publiko na patuloy na sumunod sa health protocols at magpaturok ng bakuna o booster ang eligible population. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

 

Vaccine, compliance to minimum health standards, proven effective against Omicron — Duque

Maris Federez   •   December 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III is confident that the country can prevent transmission of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Duque said the Philippines has been successful in containing the transmission of the variant because of the public’s compliance with government measures to fight the deadly disease.

“And so, I think we have strong reason to believe that our compliance and thanks to our people because they — a great majority of them follow the minimum public health standards and this should still prove effective against transmission of variants like Omicron,” Duque said during the weekly Talk to Nation of President Rodrigo Duterte aired Tuesday (December 21) night.

The DOH chief’s statement was in response to the President’s query regarding the government’s vaccination program’s reliability when pitted against the Omicron variant.

“I think there are studies to show that the effectiveness of the vaccines and those who have received booster doses looks like 50 to 80 percent pa rin ang kanyang effectiveness, especially against severe and critical COVID infection. And so we cross our fingers that more studies will support this,” Duque said.

He added that the Philippines has also been successful in containing the transmission of the variant by its implementation of resilient border control.

“Our border controls have been heightened, and that is why we were able to catch three. We already have imported Omicron cases in the country,” he said.

Duque also assured the President that the country’s health experts are monitoring the situation in countries where cases of the Omicron variant are high through the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Because the WHO is able to collate all the information coming from the different countries where Omicron variants have been reported, Sir, you know, sa France, Italy, Germany, Greece, UK, Netherlands, and many other countries,” Duque said.

“So that’s why from that information, we were able to receive that the doubling time of the Omicron variant is somewhere between 1.3 to about 2.6 days doubling time, which again reflects the greater transmissibility of this variant, which is a cause for concern,” he added.

The DOH chief reiterated that the public’s “compliance to minimum public health standards, ito pong masking, hugas, iwas ay — as we have proven them — very effective against Alpha, against Beta, against Gamma, against Delta”.

This, he stressed, should also prove effective against Omicron variant transmission.

 Duque was quick to add, however, that breakthrough infections may still occur.

“There are really two things that we should be very mindful of. And the vaccines are not really barring transmission. That’s why you have breakthrough infection despite people being vaccinated,” he said.

“And having said that, Mr. President, we have heard from the WHO about two weeks ago that the current crop of vaccines can cut transmission with Delta to about 40 percent. So ano pong ibig sabihin niyan? Ibig sabihin 60 percent pa posibleng magkaroon ng infection despite their full vaccination,” he added.

“Now, exactly with Omicron. How much lower will be — will the transmission be reduced ‘no? So iyan, alam na natin it’s a reality. Talagang mayroong breakthrough infection. Mayroong immune escape with the vaccines,” Duque futher said. —/mbmf

DTI, open to shorten physical distancing in establishments to accommodate more clients

Maris Federez   •   December 17, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is open to the recommendation to shorten the physical distancing in business establishments to accommodate a larger number of customers.

In the Laging Handa briefing, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said he is open to the idea as long as there is still distance maintained among the customers as part of minimum health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Pabor tayo diyan, basta may physical distancing pa rin na maitutupad,” he said.

Business establishments suggest shortening the physical distance between customers from the current 1 meter to .75 meters.

The proposed distance will ensure that establishments that are allowed to operate in areas under Alert Level 2 restrictions will be able to accommodate more customers.

These establishments are restaurants, fast food chains, and shopping malls.

Secretary Lopez said they will study and review the proposal and will consult with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Lopez, however, underscored the importance of following health protocols in business establishments.

It is imperative, Lopez stressed, that customers observe these protocols amid the threat of the COVID-19 Omicron variant which is considered a more virulent virus compared to the Delta variant.

“Mahigpit pa rin ang ating pinapairal na enforcement ng minimum public health protocol. Dahil syempre nangangamba pa tayo at ayaw natin kumalat ang virus. Nandiyan ang virus pa rin. Iyan ang parati natin paaala,” Lopez said.

“Ang ginawa po natin lahat ng establisyamento pina-assign natin ng kani-kanilang health and safety protocol officer para on the ground ay may nag-e-enforce, may nagsiseguro na nagco-comply at sumusunod sa patakaran,” he added.

Meanwhile, the DTI reiterated that despite the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases, the agency is still opposed to lowering the country’s quarantine restrictions to Alert Level 1.

The DTI said the Philippines must maintain Alert Level 2 status until there are no more threats of COVID-19.

“Sa observation po natin, kahit Alert Level 2 tayo, ang sigla ng ekonomiya ay bumabalik na. Mobility ng tao, lumalabas na. As long as pinayagan natin, iyong mga minors with the parents, lahat po iyan helped bring back the market that we have,” Lopez said.

“Tinanggal na rin ang curfew. So parang nasa Alert Level 1 na rin tayo, kung ako ang tatanungin doon. So, kailangan lang talagang i-keep itong Alert Level 2 para nandiyan pa rin, somehow, iyong mindset na kailangang todo ingat pa rin tayo,” he insisted. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aileen Cerrudo)

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