Phl detects first local Delta variant cases

Maris Federez   •   July 16, 2021   •   572

MANILA, Philippines — Sixteen (16) new cases of the coronavirus disease Delta (B.1.617.2) variant have been detected in the recent studies by local medical experts, according to the Department of Health (DOH) news release on Friday, July 16.

Based on the latest whole-genome sequencing report of the DOH, the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH), 11 of these are the first local cases of the Delta variant.

The DOH said of the 11 local cases, six have been detected in Region 10 and are part of a large cluster of cases, with dates of onset between 23 to 28 June. All six have been tagged as recovered, the health department said.

Two cases, on the other hand, have been detected in the National Capital Region. One case was tagged as dead after being rushed to the emergency room of a hospital on 28 June. The other case is an outpatient with an onset date of 23 June, which was tagged as recovered, the report said.

One other case, an outpatient with an onset date of 27 June and was also tagged as recovered, was initially tested in the National Capital Region but has an indicative address in Region 3.

The health department said all these cases have no known connection to each other.

The last two local cases were detected in Region 6, both with an onset date of 27 May and have been tagged as recovered, the DOH report added.

Meanwhile, five of the 16 cases are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

One case arrived in the Philippines from the United Kingdom on 26 April 2021 and was tagged as recovered after undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine period, the report said.

It added that another two of the said cases arrived in the Philippines from Qatar on 15 June 2021 and have also been tagged as recovered.

The DOH is still verifying the arrival and quarantine status of the two other ROF cases.

“The DOH is in close coordination with the Centers for Health Development and Local Government Units to ensure that all cases have been or are appropriately traced and managed. The Bureau of Quarantine and the Department of Transportation are on high alert to implement strict border control measures,” the statement said.

“The DOH underscores that with our 4-door strategy, we have delayed the entry of the Delta variant with the activation of Doors 1 and 2. Now that the country has detected local cases of the Delta variant, Doors 3 and 4 are being activated. Door 3 would involve strengthening the implementation of the PDITR strategies while Door 4 is ensuring that our healthcare capacity is ready for a possible surge,” it added.

The health department also reminded the public that, in spite of being controlled by vaccination, the spread of COVID-19 globally is still being driven by the emergence of variants of concern, increased social mobility, and inappropriate use of public health measures.

“Even while we are vaccinating the Filipino people, minimum public health measures such as physical distancing and masking should not be neglected,” the DOH said. —/mbmf

IATF revisits ‘no vaccine, no work’ policy

Maris Federez   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) announced that it is revisiting Resolutions 148-B and 149 on the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination of onsite workers.

Department of Health (DOH) Usec. Charade Mercado-Grande, who is in the DOH-IATF Secretariat, said the resolutions mandating the “no vaccine, no work” policy is under review.

“The matter is already under review and discussion po, Mr. Chair,” she said during the House Committee on Labor and Employment hearing on Tuesday.

The House panel had earlier sent a letter to the IATF, urging the body to suspend the resolution that allows business establishments to implement the ‘no vaccine, no work” policy among onsite employees.

Mercado-Grande confirmed that the resolution is still in effect despite calls from members of the House to have it suspended.

Committee chair Rep. Eric Pineda expressed dismay over the seeming disregard of the IATF to their call.

“Wala man lang sagot sa amin, ni ha ni ho. Di sana tumawag man sila o nagparamdam man lang sila. But the way we feel it, especially my committee members, para kaming napapahiya dito. Para kaming hindi binibigyan ng importansya ng mga amo ninyo,” Pineda said.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Ferdinand Gaite shared the same sentiment.

“Tila hindi binibigyan ng pagpapahalaga itong napakalaki nang implication sa ating mga manggagawa sa kasalukuyan,” he said.

With this, Pineda warned that it will issue a subpoena to the officials of the IATF should the body continue to ignore their panel’s invitation to attend the hearing.

“Kasi we don’t want na umabot sa punto na this committee will now subpoena the members of the IATF just to compel them to attend this hearing,” Pineda said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Duterte sees better days for Phl as COVID-19 cases decline

Maris Federez   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed optimism that the country has good a chance of overcoming the pandemic with the government’s aggressive immunization campaign against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Better days ahead because since December 1, we have been on average of 500 to 600 and the number of active cases continues to go down. I’m talking about the COVID,” the President said during his televised Talk to the People address amid threat of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

“Sa Davao nga last week there’s only one. Very impressive. We continue to see a downward trend of the positivity rate, now only less than two percent,” Duterte said.

This shows, he said, that for every 100 persons tested for COVID-19, only a maximum of two people turned out to be positive.

Duterte also highlighted the success of the national vaccination days or the Bayanihan, Bakunahan for being able to administer 10.2 million doses throughout the Philippines from November 29 to December 3, which he said was a huge achievement in the country’s fight against COVID-19.

The president also announced the conduct of the second round of Bayanihan, Bakunahan from December 15 to 17.

“I hope that we would have the same success. But this time lesser because parang naubos na natin ang Pilipino sa ‘yung what counts sa bakuna kaya medyo there’s a slowdown of the COVID-19,” Duterte said. —/mbmf

NCR’s COVID-19 reproduction rate down to 0.35 – OCTA

Robie de Guzman   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The COVID-19 reproduction rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) went down to 0.35 from November 29 to December, Independent Analytics Group OCTA Research said.

OCTA Research fellow Guido David said nearly all indicators in the same period have gone down when compared to the data gathered in the past week.

In a message on Twitter on Monday, Guido also said that the daily attack rate has gone down to 0.79 from November 29 to December 5 from 2.61 recorded in the same period last year.

The positivity rate also went down to 1.1 percent from 3.7 percent, and the hospital bed occupancy from 37 percent to 21 percent.

He, however, noted that the number of ICU beds occupied slightly increased from 322 to 350.

In a media briefing, Guido said the current data should be maintained to keep the country’s very low risk classification for COVID-19.

He is also in favor of keeping the NCR and the rest of the country under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 in view of the threat of the newly discovered Omicron variant.

“If there was no threat of a new variant, pwede naman tayo actually it’s possible to de-escalate because we are at very low risk based on our metrics,” he said.

“We don’t know when this variant might come in the country. At least we are better prepared if we have some restrictions than if we don’t have restrictions,” he added.

Should the new variant enter the Philippines, David said the Philippines may see another surge in COVID-19 cases by 2022.

The OCTA Research fellow noted that based on preliminary studies, the Omicron variant seems more contagious than the Delta variant.

“If it’s twice sa Omicron then we are expecting 1 person with Omicron will infect 10-16 other people,” he said.

“Most likely ang timeline natin around January or February baka magkaroon ng disruption. It may not be a massive surge but it will still affect the number of cases,” he added.

He urged the public to be responsible and continue adhering to public health protocols against COVID-19 especially this holiday season. (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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