Still no case of Omicron COVID-19 variant in PH – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2021   •   635

MANILA, Philippines – There is still no case of Omicron COVID-19 variant in the Philippines in the latest whole genome sequencing run, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a statement, the DOH said that the genome sequencing conducted on Wednesday by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) on 48 samples did not detect the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant.

Of the 48 samples sequenced, 38 (79.17%) were Delta (B.1.617.2) variant cases; the rest had non-VOC (variant of concern) lineages or had no lineages detected, the DOH added.

The latest sequencing run was composed of 12 returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) and 36 local cases from areas with high-risk average daily attack rates and case clusters.

“Of the additional 38 Delta variant cases, 31 were local cases and seven were ROFs,” the agency said.

“Two ROFs had travel histories from Turkey and one ROF each from Jordan, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, and Peru,” it added.

The DOH disclosed that of the 31 local cases, six had indicated addresses in Cagayan Valley Region, while five cases were from the Cordillera Administrative Region, three cases each from MIMAROPA, Bicol, Western Visayas, SOCCSKSARGEN, and the National Capital Region, two cases each from Central Luzon and CALABARZON, and one case from Davao Region.

“Based on the case line list, one local case is still active, 27 local and all seven ROF cases have been tagged as recovered, and three local cases are currently being verified as to their outcomes,” it said.

“All other details are being validated by the regional and local health offices,” it added.

The additional cases of Delta variant in the country bring the total tally to 7,886.

The DOH said that additional ROF and local cases from areas with increases or clustering will be prioritized for sequencing once these samples have been received by UP-PGC.

The agency added that it is currently coordinating with COVID-19 testing laboratories to expedite transport of these samples.

The DOH reminded the public that the best defense against COVID-19 and its variants is by adhering to the minimum public health standards.

“Everyone should continue to properly wear a face mask, wash their hands often, observe physical distancing, and ensure proper ventilation. Moreover, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 helps prevent severe disease and death,” it said.

“LGUs are urged to continuously conduct active case finding and immediately investigate clustering of cases to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the communities,” it added.

PH gov’t to tap drug stores as COVID-19 vaccine booster sites

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is looking to tap drug stores to serve as COVID-19 vaccine booster sites in a bid to ramp up the administration of booster jabs in the country.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with some of his officials on Monday, Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 response Vince Dizon said the government will seek the help of pharmacies in the country following reports that some vaccination staff have also contracted the virus.

Dizon said the program, which would be dubbed “Resbakuna sa mga botika,” will be launched this week in the first seven pharmacies in Metro Manila.

The pilot run is set for January 20 to 21 in sites including Mercury Drug, Watsons, Rose Pharmacy, Southstar Drug, and the Generics Pharmacy, as well as Healthway and QualiMed.

After the weeklong run, it would then be expanded to other drugstores across the country, he added.

“We will start with 7 pharmacies in Metro Manila which we will launch on Thursday, January 20 and on Friday, January 21,” Dizon said.

“Mabilis po ito Mr. President, pagka-launch po natin, magpi-pilot po sila ng isang linggo, mag-eexpand na po tayo nang mabilis sa iba’t iba pang cities all over the country- Luzon, Visayas, at Mindanao- at sa iba’t ibang mga botika,” he added.

The program aims to assist local government units and the Department of Health with additional personnel for vaccination. It will also help decentralize the inoculation by having smaller but widely spread vaccination sites in the form of drugstores.

 

Philippines posts 28,471 new COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Tuesday logged 28,471 more COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

This is the first time in a week that the number of new COVID-19 infections fell below 30,000.

In its data, the DOH said that 27,735 of the newly reported cases occurred within the recent 14 days. Most infections were reported in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon.

The latest figure pushed the country’s number of active cases to 284,458 – 8,930 of which are asymptomatic, 270,784 are mild, 2,957 are moderate, 1,484 are severe, and 303 are in critical condition.

The positivity rate was at 43.4 percent, based on samples of 51,738 individuals on January 16.

Five laboratories failed to submit their data on time. These facilities contribute on average 1.7 percent of samples tested and 2.1 percent of positive cases.

Recoveries increased by 34,892, resulting in 2,933,338 total recuperations.

COVID-related deaths rose to 52,962 with 34 new fatalities.

The utilization rate of intensive care unit beds nationwide was at 49 percent, and 53 percent in Metro Manila; isolation beds in the capital region at 48 percent, and 49 percent across the country.

In Metro Manila, 29 percent of ventilators are in use, and  22 percent nationwide.

 

PH gov’t to ramp up administration of COVID vaccine booster jabs to 500K a day – Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will increase the number of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots being administered in the country to 500,000 daily, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting with officials on Monday, Galvez said more than 4.7 million Filipinos have taken their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. The daily average is 267,900 shots.

“Ito po sa ating analysis ay mababa dahil halos sabay po natin inilunsad ang pagbabakuna ng mga bata, ang mga bata po ngayon ay mahigit na 8 million,” he said.

“Ang average po natin naitala ay mahigit na 260,000 po lamang. Kinakailangan po na maiangat sa doblado or 500,000 doses kada araw,” he added.

Galvez said the country needs to ramp up its booster output in order to achieve its target of boosting more than 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19.

To increase the output, the official said concerned agencies have drafted strategies including the expansion of vaccination sites for boosters using pharmacies and private clinics.

“Concentrate po tayo sa NCR+ 10 at sa mga area na may more than 70 percent fully vaccinated para mapanatili na mataas at tuloy-tuloy na proteksiyon,” Galvez said.

“I-expand po natin ang vaccination sites for boostering using big pharmacies and private sector clinics for the A4 population… At mag-dedicate po tayo ng mega vaccination site like Nayong Pilipino at mga malls for boosters administration,” he added.

The Philippine government is eyeing to fully vaccinate up to 77 million Filipinos in the first quarter of this year and 90 million Filipinos by the second quarter.

To date, more than 55 million individuals have been fully vaccinated since the Philippines rolled out its immunization campaign in March 2020.

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