PH detects COVID-19 UK variant

Maris Federez   •   January 13, 2021   •   1146

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) officially confirmed the detection of the B.1.1.7. SARS-CoV-2 variant (UK variant) in the country.

This, after samples from a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 7 yielded positive genome sequencing results, according to a DOH press release Wednesday (January 13) following strengthened biosurveillance and border control efforts of the two agencies.

The advisory said the patient is a male resident of Quezon City who departed for Dubai on December 27, 2020 for business purposes and arrived in the Philippines last January 7, 2021 via Emirates Flight No. EK 332.

After the positive was released, the patient was referred to a quarantine facility in Quezon City while his samples were sent to PGC for whole genome sequencing.

He was also accompanied by his female partner during his trip, but she tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 upon arrival. She, however, is currently under strict quarantine and monitoring.

The DOH said the two had no exposure to a confirmed case prior to their departure to Dubai nor had any travel activities outside Quezon City.

The health department immediately conducted contact tracing, in close coordination with the QC government. Contact tracers reported that the initially identified contacts are asymptomatic and currently under strict home quarantine.

The DOH said that they are continually working closely with the QC LGU to ensure that timely and effective measures are in place to mitigate transmission.

The agency has also secured the flight manifest of Emirates Flight No. EK 332 and contact tracing of other passengers is now underway.

Health authorities advise those who were aboard the said flight to get in touch with their Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs).

Meanwhile, the health department said that it will intensify the weekly genomic biosurveillance among incoming passengers, local cases, re-infected patients, and those with reported clustering of cases.

The DOH said it has also coordinated with the Department of Interior and Local Government for the expansion of contact tracing to include third-generation close contacts for known B.1.1.7 cases. All close contacts of confirmed B.1.1.7 cases shall also undergo strict 14-day facility-based quarantine, the advisory said.

The DOH is reiterating its call to national government agencies, local government units and the public for stricter observance of the minimum public health standards and stricter implementation of quarantine protocols to further mitigate the risk of acquiring the virus and slow down possible mutations.

PH records 3 more deaths among patients with COVID-19 Omicron variant

Robie de Guzman   •   January 26, 2022

 

MANILA, Philippines – Three more deaths among patients who contracted the COVID-19 Omicron variant  were recorded in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.

In a message to reporters, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the additional fatalities were elderly and all had underlying medical conditions.

The new fatalities raised the number of deaths from the Omicron variant to five.

“Three are seniors and all have comorbidities. One partially vaccinated, one unvaccinated, and the remaining three are still for verification,” Vergeire said.

The DOH earlier said that the highly transmissible Omicron variant is now predominant in Metro Manila and other areas, with its sub-variants BA.1 and BA.2 detected in the country.

The agency also stressed that while the Omicron variant mostly presents with asymptomatic and mild disease, data showed that the elderly, those with comorbidities, and unvaccinated are still most at risk for fatalities.

The first two deaths linked to the Omicron variant were also senior citizens with co-morbidities and unvaccinated against COVID-19.

The DOH said there are 535 confirmed Omicron variant cases in the country.

Self-test kits na aprubado ng FDA, mabibili lang sa mga otorisadong drug outlets – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 25, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Maaari nang mabili sa mga lisensiyado at aprubadong drug outlets ang dalawang brand ng COVID-19 Antigen Self-test kits, ayon sa Department of Health (DOH).

Ito ay matapos aprubahan ng Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ang aplikasyon ng special certification ng dalawang kumpanya para sa self-test kits na tinatawag na Abbot’s Panbio at Labnovation Technologies SARS-CoV2 Antigen rapid test.

Una nang iniulat ni FDA officer in charge Oscar Gutierrez na nabigyan na ng sertipikasyon ang dalawang brand at maaari nang gamitin sa bansa.

“Ang Panbio COVID-19 antigen self-test kit ng Abbot available po siya sa 1, 4, 10, and 20 tests per box. At yung SARS-CoV-2- antigen rapid test ng Labnovation Technologies Incorporated ito po ay self-test for home use din. Available po siya ng 2,5, and 20 tests per box,” ani Gutierrez.

Pero paalala ng Department of Health na may tamang proseso at panahon ang paggamit ng self-test kits upang masegurong tama ang ilalabas nitong resulta.

Ayon kay Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, mas mainam gamitin ang self-test kits kung may sintomas ang isang tao upang matiyak na accurate ang resulta ng kit.

“Please use it rationally, use it at the right time at tamang proseso. Ibig sabihin gagamit lang po kayo ng test kapag kayo ay nakakaramdam ng sintomas dahil ang antigen test po ay most accurate pa rin kapag kayo po ay nakakaranas ng sintomas dulot ng COVID-19,” ani Vergeire.

Ang panawagan naman ng Infectious Diseases expert na si Dr. Rontgene Solante, bigyang-prayoridad sa paggamit ng test kit ang mga may sintomas at nasa vulnerable population gaya ng mga matatanda upang agad malaman ang kanilang kondisyon at malapatan ng karampatang lunas.

“I-prioritize natin ang paggamit nitong antigen test doon sa mga may symptoms at vulnerable population. Bakit? Because these are the population that are kailangan na kung mag-positive meron tayong gamot na mga anti-viral or monoclonal antibodies para hindi po lalala ang mga infections nila to severe COVID at hindi sila maho-hospitalize,” ani Solante.

May pagkakaiba rin ang Antigen self-test kits sa rapid test kits na kalimitang ginagamit sa mga ospital at laboratory kaya payo ng DOH sa publiko na basahing mabuti ang instructional manual na nakapaloob sa bibilihing test kits.

“Ang kaibahan nito ay iyong pong specimen na kinokolekta. Ito pong mga self-administered test kits usually would have nasal specimens po ang kinukuha. Ibig sabihin kapag nasal specimen, di ganun kalalim sa inyong ilong ang pagkuha ng specimen for this test kits compared doon sa current na kailangan na guided siya ng health worker at mas malalim ang kinukuhang specimens para rito,” ang paliwanag ni Vergeire.

Paalala rin ng DOH na ang self-test kits ay available lamang sa mga otorisadong botika at hindi maaaring bilhin online.

“Bumili lamang ng self-administered test kits na aprubado nf FDA o galing po sa mga FDA-licensed drug outlets para lagi po tayong makakasiguro ana ito ay ligtas at lagi po tayong makakaseguro na makakapagbigya ng accurate na resulta,” ani Vergeire.

Paalala rin ng DOH sa publiko na i-check ang expiration date ng self-test kits at itago ang opisyal na resibo ng botikang pinagbilhan nito.

Sa ngayon ay isinasapinal na ng DOH ang guidelines, kaakibat ang evaluation ng Research Institute for Tropical Medicine at FDA hinggil sa COVID-19 self-test kits.

“Ang kagawaran namn po ng kalusugan are on our final stages dito po sa pagssusulat ng polisiya at guidelines kung paano natin gagamitin ito sa mercado,” ani Vergeire.

“Siguro po within the week makakapaglabas na tayo nitong guidelines natin,” dagdag pa niya.

NCR reaches peak of COVID-19 cases — DOH, OCTA

Maris Federez   •   January 24, 2022

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) and the OCTA Research Group are in agreement that the National Capital Region (NCR) has reached the peak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

The two agencies said the number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila is now expected to go down come February.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said this development is brought about by the consecutive days wherein the 7-day average growth rate in the NCR has been seen to go down.

“Lumalabas nag-peak na at nakikita natin ilang araw nang sunod sunod na bumababa ang kaso ng NCR at lumiliit ang porsyentong iniaambag nito sa ating total case load,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, the latest projection of the OCTA Research Group showed that the growth rate of the virus in Metro Manila has decreased to -50 and the production rate has slowed down to 1.03.

OCTA said they expect the COVID-19 cases in the region to go down in the coming weeks.

OCTA fellow Prof. Guido David said that based on their monitoring, Metro Manila has reached its peak of COVID-19 cases on January 10, wherein the number of positive cases in the region breached the 18,000 mark.

“Simula January 14, masasabi natin na patuloy nang bumababa yung bilang ng kaso hanggang sa ngayon. Kahapon nga 5,000 na lang. So malaki na ang ibinaba from 18,000 down to 5,400. Ang laking improvement,” David said.

“At kaya nga yung projection natin hopefully patuloy na yan hanggang Valentines, baka less than 1,000. Baka end of February baka less than 500 na lang. At mababalik na natin yung kalagayan natin tulad nung nakita natin nung November and December sa buong bansa. Pero sa Metro Manila pa lang yan,” he added.

Based on their study, OCTA said that COVID-19 cases in the NCR will go down to as low as 1,000 by February.

This data, the group said, may be used by the government in determining whether to place the region under a more relaxed alert level restriction.

However, Duque said that this development is not yet a parameter to come up with the decision to ease the alert status in the NCR to Alert Level 2.

This, he said, still calls for the review and consideration by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“Pero paguusapan pa rin yan mamaya sa IATF or rather on Thursday. Baka kailangan na kailangan ay tingnan na rin kung talagang malinaw na ang health care utilization ay nagkaroon na ng pagbabaklas o decoupling. Kumbaga tumaas ang kaso okay pa yung mga severe critical nasa baba so may decoupling, kung tawagin. Baka pagusapan yan pwede na at mababa to alert level 2,” Duque explained.

He added that based on the DOH monitoring, the hospital bed and ICU utilization in the NCR is now at low risk.

On the other hand, such is not the case in areas outside the NCR.

Duque said, healthcare utilization rate in several areas of the country are now at high to critical risk which the IATF is closely monitoring.

Meanwhile, OCTA Research also reported that decreasing COVID-19 cases are also recorded in the provinces of Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aileen Cerrudo)

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