DOH calls for strict granular lockdown in areas with Delta variant threat

Maris Federez   •   July 16, 2021   •   613

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday called on local government units (LGUs) to intensify their border control, the implementation of the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategy, and the vaccination rollout amid the reported detection of local cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Delta variant.

DOH Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said granular lockdown should be the primary action in  various areas in the country where the Delta variant is detected.

“Our foremost or primary strategy, for now, is granular lockdown […] Kung nakikita natin ang isang area has surge tapos may Delta variant yan ang pag-uusapan sa IATF kung kailangnan natin i-escalate ang mga areas na ito […] Kung kasama po sa surge nila iyan tapos may Delta, we will be recommending a stricter classification for that specific area,” Vergeire said.

The DOH Epidemiology Bureau and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), on the other hand, clarified that although cases of the Delta variant have been detected in the country, they are not related to each other except the ones traced in Cagayan de Oro City that have a clustering of cases.

“Ako po, I would say not yet because we haven’t been able to link that one case has been able to infect another. Kung titingnan natin doon sa WHO definition, […] we have sporadic na paisa-isa lamang and then iyong local nga po na from one infection local to another. But of course, we are continuously investigating this,” Dr. Alethea de Guzman, OIC-Director 3 of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau, said.

“One hundred percent sourced from abroad. We have done a genetic analysis of all the Delta variants in the Philippines. They are all rooted in samples abroad. Some of them are very closely linked with clusters in India, others are in the United Arab Emirates, others are probably in South East Asia. So huwag tayo maniwala na natural nag-evolve dito sa atin,” PGC executive director Dr. Cynthia Saloma said.

The DOH said the country now has a total of 35 Delta variant cases. The department will closely monitor the case trend in the regions where they are detected.

“Sa ngayon po may bahagyang pagtaas sa ilang lugar pero hindi pa ganoon kataas kaya nasasabi natin possible po na sporadic pa lang ito at ito ang opportunity po na ma-contain natin ang further spread,” de Guzman said.

“We are intensifying our surveillance and other protection and isolation measures,” she added.

Medical experts warned the public to avoid any form of gatherings and limit exposure within the family only, amid the detection of local cases in the country,

The health department also encourages the public to avail of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, stressing that the transmissibility ratio of the variant is 1:8.

This means that an individual who is found positive for the Delta variant may be able to infect eight others once health protocols are breached. —/mbmf (from the report of Aiko Miguel)

Pagpapababa sa presyo ng RT-PCR test pinag-aaralan ng DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Pinag-aaralan na ng Department of Health (DOH) kung maaaring mapababa ang presyo ng RT-PCR o swab test sa gitna ng lumulobong kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa.

Ang hakbang ay kasunod na rin ng reklamo sa mataas na presyo ng test at dami ng mga nagpapasuri.

Ayon kay DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, inaalam na nila ang paraan kung paano mapapamura ang presyo ng swab test upang hindi gaanong mabigatan ang bulsa ng mga Pilipino.

Noong Setyembre 2021, sinabi ng DOH na dapat ay naglalaro lang sa P2,000 hanggang P3,000 ang presyo ng RT-PCR test sa mga pampubliko at pribadong laboratoryo.

Mula ito sa dating presyo na P3,000 hanggang P5,000.

DOH updates isolation, quarantine times for COVID-19 cases, close contacts

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has disclosed that the protocols for the isolation and quarantine durations for confirmed cases of COVID-19 and close contacts have been updated amid the rapidly rising number of infections in the country.

During a Zoom presentation published on Wednesday, DOH Spokesperson, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the isolation period for fully vaccinated persons with mild COVID-19 will now be shortened from 10 days to seven days from onset of symptoms.

For fully vaccinated asymptomatic cases, the isolation period will be seven days from their positive RT-PCR test result.

“Ten days isolation is retained for those that are partially or unvaccinated, and those with moderate symptoms regardless of vaccination status,” Vergeire said.

“Meanwhile, the isolation period has been retained to 21 days for those with severe and critical disease, and those immunocompromised as outlined by the living CTG panel,” she added.

Vergeire said that for fully vaccinated health workers with boosters, their isolation duration can be shortened to five days by hospital infection prevention and control committee and/or provincial health offices upon careful assessment of benefits and risk.

“They shall also be expanded to other sectors with strict industry standards on IPC subject with IATF approval,” she added.

The quarantine period for fully vaccinated asymptomatic close contacts, Vergeire said, will be shortened to five days from the previous seven days.

“For the quarantine of asymptomatic close contacts for the general public, policies are to be from seven days, we shortened it to five days for those who are fully vaccinated, and we retained 14 days for partially or unvaccinated individuals,” Vergeire said.

“All individuals should also be reminded to continue monitoring their symptoms, wear their mask, and implement minimum public health standards for 14 days,” she added.

The quarantine period for fully vaccinated health workers will be cut short to five days while those with boosters may no longer undergo quarantine period

A note on the slide showing the update quarantine period stated that this is still subject to IATF approval/DOH guidelines.

The DOH said isolation is for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 while quarantine is for those who have been exposed and can possibly develop infection.

Vergeire also said that the testing of asymptomatic close contacts would not be required unless they developed symptoms.

“For healthcare workers that are considered asymptomatic close contacts, for the sake of uniformity, they will follow the five days quarantine similar to the general public, provided, they are fully vaccinated,” she said.

The DOH would also retain that the hospital prevention and control committees could further shorten the healthcare workers’ quarantine with boosters depending on the situations, risks, and benefits, she added.

During the presentation, Vergeire said the update in the DOH guidelines was “deemed necessary” because “the differences in guidelines for quarantine and isolation of travelers, the general public, and specific sectors like healthcare workers had been causing confusion on the ground.”

She also said that amid the continuous rise in the number of cases, most of these remain asymptomatic and mild, which showed the effectiveness of the vaccines against severe COVID-19.

Patients who contracted the Omicron variant also showed milder symptoms that those that caught the Delta variant.

“The prolonged quarantine and isolation duration has been causing strain to our healthcare system and our economy,” Vergeire said.

“Our experts believed that specifically in the Omicron variant the benefits of shortening the quarantine outweighs the risk,” she added.

Vergeire also noted that other countries were also updating their protocols on quarantine and isolation periods.

“While the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is the most aggressive example by bringing down their isolation and quarantine periods to five days, we also see other countries moving down from 14 days to 10 days,” she said.

“The updated policy of the Philippines attempts to find acceptable standards give our current context and allow more flexibility to groups and sectors that can strictly implement infection, prevention, and control procedures,” she added.

Vergeire said the updated policy will be issued in the next few days after it has been presented to and approved by the IATF.

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)



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