Galvez wants genome test on Davao City COVID-19 samples to check for new variant
Robie de Guzman • January 14, 2021 • 87
MANILA, Philippines — The city government of Davao is set to submit specimens of patients with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Metro Manila to check for the possible presence of new coronavirus variant amid the spike of new cases in the city.
Dr. Ashley Lopez, the city’s COVID-19 focal person, said vaccine czar and National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez issued the directive on Wednesday after seeing a worrisome uptick in new infections in the city.
Lopez said the specimens of COVID-19 patients recorded this month will be sent to the RITM for a genomic analysis.
While the increase in COVID-19 cases in the city could have been due to a post-holiday surge, he said authorities cannot discount the possibility that a new variant may have entered its borders through the porous backdoor channels in some areas in Mindanao, including Cotabato City, Zamboanga City, Sarangani Province and General Santos City.
Malaysia, the country’s closest neighbor, has already confirmed a case of the new variant.
Lopez said the Task Force Davao and the city’s Public Safety and Security Command Center have implemented stricter restrictions at the borders to regulate the entry of people.
Data from the Department of Health-Davao Region showed that from January 1 to 23, 2021 alone, Davao City recorded 1,222 new infections, which is 33% higher than the number reported from December 19 to 31, 2020. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lucille Lloren)
MANILA, Philippines – All travelers who test positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) upon arrival in the Philippines will be subjected to genome sequencing to check for the presence of new variants, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.
The DOH announced the new directive after a 29-year old Filipino who traveled to Dubai in December tested positive for the more transmissible COVID-19 variant first reported in the United Kingdom.
“There was instruction already na lahat ng parating na pasahero basta’t positive atin na pong isu-isubject sa [genome] sequencing,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.
Genomic sequencing is a process that allows scientists to analyze and determine how a virus has mutated and to detect if it has the new variants based on the samples taken from coronavirus-infected patients.
Previously, authorities conducted random sequencing of the samples of inbound passengers who tested positive for COVID-19.
Amid the growing number of cases of new COVID-19 variants, the DOH said the government is strengthening its genomic biosurveillance as it is “not feasible” for the country to totally shut its borders.
“Our safeguard would be the biosurveillance that we will be doing and the strict protocols in our ports of entry,” Vergeire said.
She also pointed out that none of the other countries are implementing a total travel ban amid the reported spread of new coronavirus variants.
“Wala pa naman tayong move na ganyan sa ngayon na pinag-uusapan sa Inter- Agency Task Force… Kailangan lang natin maintindihan na iyon pong mga ibang mga countries na may variant, wala namang community transmission… But, of course, that would be part of something to be considered by the IATF in the coming days,” she said.
Malacañang has announced Friday that the government is extending for another two weeks that travel restrictions on foreign passengers coming from 32 countries. Filipinos coming from countries covered by the travel ban are still allowed to enter the Philippines but will be required to undergo quarantine for two weeks regardless of their COVID-19 test result. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)
MANILA, Philippines – Maaaring maharap sa parusa ang sinomang close contact ng Pilipinong nag-positibo sa UK variant ng COVID-19 na hindi makikipagtulungan sa mga otoridad, ayon sa Department of Health (DOH).
Inilabas ng DOH ang babala sa gitna ng ginagawa nitong contact tracing sa lahat ng nakasalamuha ng Pilipinong nagkaroon ng UK coronavirus variant matapos bumiyahe palabas ng bansa noong Disyembre.
Una nang iniulat ng DOH na ang Pilipinong naimpeksyon ng UK COVID-19 variant ay bumiyahe pa-United Arab Emirates noong Disyembre. Umuwi ito sa bansa nitong Enero 7 kasama ang kanyang kasintahan sakay ng eroplanong may lulang 159 iba pang mga pasahero.
Ayon kay Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, 92 porsiyento o 146 na ng close contacts ng pasyente ang nakausap ng DOH. Ang nalalabing 13 naman ay hindi pa umano tumutugon o kaya ay kinakansela ang kanilang tawag.
Paalala ni Vergeire na sa ilalim ng batas, maaaring maharap sa multa o parusang pagkakakulong ang sinomang close contacts ng pasyente na hindi makikipagtulungan sa mga otoridad.
“There is this violation, we have a law, RA 11332, law on notifiable diseases… Maaari po tayong magkaroon ng mga sanctions for these persons especially kung talagang kasama siya as contact siya, and the risk of him spreading the diseases ay nandoon,” ang wika ni Vergeire.
Ayon kay Vergeire, nasa quarantine facilities na ang ilan sa close contacts ng UK variant-positive na pasyante habang ang ilan naman ay pinayagang mag-home quarantine alinsunod sa panuntunan. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)
MANILA, Philippines — The national government has extended the travel restrictions on 32 countries until January 31 amid threat of the new COVID-19 variant.
The Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the recommendation to extend the travel restriction, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.
“Inaprubahan po ng inyong IATF ang rekomendasyon na ma-extend hanggang Janaury 31, 2021 ang entry travel restrictions at mga patakaran sa mga byaherong galing o transiting sa mga sumusunod na bansa kung saan meron na pong bagong strain ng COVID-19 (The IATF approved the recommendation to extend the entry travel restrictions until January 31, 2021, including the implementation of protocols for travelers transiting in areas with confirmed new strain of COVID-19),” Roque said.
Countries with travel restrictions until January 31:
The United Kingdom
The People’s Republic of China, including Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
United States of America
Roque added that the IATF directed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to implement health protocols and guidelines in airlines. Contact tracing and quarantine protocols will also be intensified.
“Lahat ng matutukoy na close contacts ay kailangang sumailalim sa mahigpit na facility-based 14-day quarantine samantalang ang natirang contacts mula sa flight manifest ay papayuhan sumunod sa appropriate quarantine protocols (All in close contact need to undergo in a facility-based 14-day quarantine while the remaining contacts from the flight manifest need to follow appropriate quarantine protocols),” the Palace official said.
Local government units are advised to boost the maintenance of their quarantine facilities as well as the use of Staysafe.PH system for better contact tracing.
The IATF also approved the continuous genomic biosurveillance activities of the Department of Health (DOH), UP-Philippine Genome Center, and the UP-National Institutes of Health.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is not yet included in the list of countries covered by the travel restrictions. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
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