The Department of Health announced the detection of two local Delta (B.1.617.2) variant cases in Western Visayas on Friday, July 16, and a close watch is up for clustering and surges of COVID-19 cases in the region to prevent its spread.
Dr. Adriano Suba-an, DOH 6 regional director, advised the public to remain calm and vigilant, emphasizing that adherence to health protocols can still significantly prevent the risk of transmission.
Hit by the Delta variant were an elderly couple from Antique who were hospitalized on May 27. The husband who was asymptomatic recovered but the wife died on May 31.
The wife who was a type 2 diabetic succumbed to hypoxemia secondary to pneumonia, Dr. Glenn Alonsabe, DOH regional epidemiologist, said.
The specimens of the couple, who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19, were sent to the Philippine Genome Center on June 11 and the results were released more than a month later on Friday morning, Alonsabe added.
Back tracking of close contacts of the couple, who had no history of travel, is underway to determine the source of infection. There is initial information that the couple came in contact with a COVID-positive person who is a relative of a returning overseas Filipino, but this needs validation, Alonsabe said.
They cannot say if there are existing active Delta variant cases in the region as of now as contact tracing is still underway, he said.
Suba-an assured the public that the DOH 6 is closely coordinating with local government units in the implementation of back tracing and contact tracing to ensure that there is no additional layer of contacts.
The DOH 6 maintains close coordination with the local government units to strengthen the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate strategy, border control and strict monitoring of endorsed arrivals in their respective localities, he said.
Suba-an said they are prioritizing areas where there have been COVID-19 surges. They are mapping cases not only in Antique but in the whole of Western Visayas to determine if there is a presence of the Delta variant, he said.
COVID-9 vaccination will be prioritized in areas where there is a clustering of cases, he said.
Restricted travel between Negros and Panay may be considered as a possible measure to contain the virus, Suba-an said.
Director Alethea De Guzman, of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau, said the Delta variant is estimated to be approximately 40 to 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha Variant and is associated with increased hospitalization.
She said while a SARS-CoV-2 hit person infects two to three persons, a Delta variant carrier can infect from five to eight persons.
The Delta variant is also associated with approximately double the risk of hospitalization compared with the Alpha variant, she said.
“The DOH maintains that quarantine and restrictions are an important part of government’s response to help contain this variant, thus localized or granular lockdowns may be imposed if necessary,” Suba-an said.
He said the DOH continues to provide assistance to health facilities in the region to enhance genomic surveillance and to increase health care capacity and be ready for a surge.
To protect one’s self from any COVID-19 variant, the DOH encourages the eligible population to get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to them, he said.*