Is COVID-19 variant of interest Lambda more contagious? Here’s what we know so far

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2021   •   479

Health authorities are closely monitoring cases of Lambda coronavirus variant as it spreads across the world in a short period of time.

The Health Ministry of Malaysia earlier reported that the Lambda variant is feared to be “more infectious” than the Delta variant.

But the World Health Organization (WHO) said there is still not enough information to say that the Lambda mutation is more contagious than other identified COVID-19 variants.

According to the WHO website, the Lambda variant (C.37) was first detected in Peru in December 2020. It is still considered a variant of interest (VOI) and was said to have similar attributes to the highly transmissible Delta variant that first emerged in India.

The WHO said that a variant is considered a variant of interest if its genome has mutations with established or suspected phenotypic implications, and either:

  • Has been identified to cause community transmission/multiple COVID-19 cases/clusters, or has been detected in multiple countries; OR
  • Is otherwise assessed to be a VOI by WHO in consultation with the WHO SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution Working Group.

Variants under VOI are different from those classified as variants of concern (VOC).

According to the WHO, a variant is considered as a VOC if there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; or increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation; or decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics.

Variants classified as VOC include Alpha (first reported in the United Kingdom), Beta (South Africa), Gamma (Brazil), and Delta (India).

Since its first detection in December and classification as VOI in June 2021, the Lambda variant has so far been reported in more than 30 countries.

Health authorities have yet to report a case of the Lambda variant in the Philippines.

But like other COVID-19 variants, the Department of Health urged the public to continue observing health protocols and get vaccinated against coronavirus disease as it offers protection against severe forms of COVID-19.

Strict border control is also needed to prevent the variant from entering the country.

Duterte wants LGU officials to convince constituents to get vaccinated

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged local government officials to ramp up their respective COVID-19 vaccination programs.

“I urge LGUs to come up with the most systematic and efficient way of finding out who among your constituents have not yet vaccinated. Please do everything to convince them to get vaccinated,” he said during his weekly public address.

Duterte reported that as of October 24, the country has administered 55.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, where around 30 million were given as first doses and 25 million as second doses.

He added that the national government aims to fully vaccinate 50 million citizens by the end of the year.

“We also need to ramp up vaccination rate in various LGUs in order to reach our target of inoculating 50 million fully-vaccinated individuals by the end of the year,” Duterte said.

The president added that vaccine supply allocated for far-flung provinces must not expire and should preserve its integrity.

” Yung mga bakuna na sana umabot na doon sa pinakamalayong lugar and the provincial, city, and
municipal health officials will take over. Ang concern ko lang naman is that they would be able to preserve the integrity of the vaccines. That is very important. Ibig sabihin na hindi expired, walang sira, hindi ma-contaminate and all,” he said. AAC

Mga bata, bawal mamasyal sa dolomite Beach sa Maynila – Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Muling nagpa-alala ang Malakanyang sa publiko na hindi pa maaaring magtungo sa mga pasyalan ang mga menor de edad sa kabila ng pagluluwag ng COVID-19 alert level sa Metro Manila.

Ginawa ng Palasyo ang paalala kasunod ng muling pagdagsa ng maraming tao sa dolomite beach sa Maynila nitong weekend.

Batay sa video na kuha ng UNTV drone, makikita ang kumpulan ng maraming tao sa Manila Bay pati na ang ilang pamilyang may kasama pang mga bata.

Sa dami ng taong dumagsa sa lugar, hindi na nasunod ang social distancing rule at may iba pang hindi maayos ang pagkakasuot ng face mask.

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, bawal pang pumasok ang mga bata sa dolomite beach sa Manila Bay at iba pang pasyalan.

Una nang sinabi ni Roque na maaari lamang lumabas ang mga bata kung ito ay para sa pangunahing pangangailangan at outdoor exercise.

“Hindi pa po pwede talagang magpasyal-pasyal ang mga bata. So, unang-una nananawagan po kami sa ating mga kababayan, pandemya pa po,” ani Roque.

“Bagama’t bumababa po ang mga kaso natin eh nandiyan pa po si COVID-19. So, huwag po tayong magpabaya… Kinakailangan po mask, hugas, iwas at kung kakayanin na bakuna na,” dagdag pa niya.

Kasalukuyang nasa COVID-19 Alert Level 3 ang Metro Manila, na ang ibig sabihin ay mas maluwag na restriction at pagpapahintulot sa pagbubukas ng mas maraming establisimyento sa limitadong kapasidad.

Ngunit paalala ng Palasyo sa publiko, dapat pa ring mag-ingat at iwasan ang pagkukumpulan dahil sa patuloy na banta ng COVID-19 sa kabila ng mataas na vaccination rate sa rehiyon.

Dapat ring panatilihin ang pagsunod sa health protocols upang maiwasan ang super spreader events.

“Nananawagan din po kami sa kapulisan, siguro diyan po sa Maynila, kinakailangan po ipatupad natin yung social distancing,” ani Roque.

Samantala, muli ring umapela ang Department of Health (DOH) sa publiko na huwag balewalain ang ipinaiiral na health protocols upang huwag nang tumaas pa ang kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa.

“Katulad po ng lagi nating sinasabi hindi pa po tapos ang laban, andito pa po ang virus. Kailangan po tulong-tulong tayo huwag po tayong maging kampante maaaring lumabas pa ring pero kailangan mag- iingat pa rin tayo lahat,” ang paalala ni DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Samantala, sinabi naman ni Environment and Natural Undersecretary Benny Antiporda na posibleng limitahan na nila ang dami ang mga papapasuking bisita sa dolomite beach sa Manila Bay upang maiwasan ang pagdagsa ng mga tao.

“They can spend about 15 minutes and since hindi po—hindi na po 15 minutes, pinababayaan na po kahit magtagal sa loob, eh titingnan po natin at kahit tuloy-tuloy pa ho, tuloy-tuloy pa yung dating ng tao, maaari hong ibalik namin yung time limit ng pagbisita,” ang wika ni Antiporda. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PNP to deploy more cops at Manila dolomite beach

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2021

 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said it will deploy more personnel at the dolomite beach in Manila after thousands of people flocked to the area over the weekend.

PNP chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar said he has tasked the Manila Police District (MPD) to closely coordinate with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), dolomite beach administrators, and the local government unit on the possibility of establishing restrictions on the number of visitors and their length of stay.

He also directed the MPD to make sure that no super spreader event will occur in the area.

“Inatasan ko na ang Director, MPD na magdagdag ng pulis sa dolomite area ng Manila Bay upang tiyakin na nasusunod ang minimum public health safety protocols. Kasama sa aking utos ang pakikipag-ugnayan sa lokal na pamahalaan upang magkaroon ng maayos na sistema, lalo na sa pagdadala ng mga bata na nakita natin sa video at sa mga litrato na kumalat sa social media,” Eleazar said in a statement.

“Nauunawaan natin ang kasabikan ng ilan nating mga kababayan na lumabas dahil sa mahabang lockdown subalit hindi dahilan ito upang ipagsawalang-bahala ang kaligtasan ng bawat isa, lalo na ang mga batang isinama nila gayong malinaw sa patakaran na hindi pa puwede silang lumabas under the COVID Alert Level 3 status,” he added.

Last Sunday, the PNP said authorities temporarily stopped the entry of visitors when the crowd reached 4,000.

Video taken via UNTV drone also showed clusters of people visiting the dolomite beach, with some even violating the protocol on social distancing and wearing of face masks.

Eleazar reminded the public to strictly adhere to the health protocols against COVID-19 when visiting public areas to prevent the further spread of the disease.

The DENR earlier said it is eyeing the possibility of limiting to only 15 minutes the length of stay and the number of visitors to the area.

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