The Department of Health (DOH) has recently acknowledged the possibility of having undetected cases of the faster-spreading COVID-19 Delta variant in the Philippines.
The variant that originated from India is known to be 60% more contagious than the Alpha variant.
“The possibility is always there,” says the health department’s spokesperson and undersecretary Maria Rosaria Vergeire in a virtual briefing when asked how the Delta variant escaped detection.
MANILA — Purposive sampling, getting samples from areas with high cases, is currently being done to triple-check on the possibility, says Vergeire.
The Philippine Genome Center checks these samples, and can run 750 samples per week. Its capacity will increase to around 1,500 once new machines arrive. Meanwhile, the health agency is also planning a capacity extension to both Visayas and Mindanao.
There are currently 35 confirmed cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant, three of which have succumbed to the death while the rest were reported to have recovered. Two of the three people who died have not been vaccinated. Eleven of the overall 35 are known to be locally acquired cases.
Among those who have recovered, eight have again tested positive for the virus, bringing the active count back from zero to eight. This strange occurrence is now being closely monitored, according to Vergeire. Close contacts of active cases have also been identified, in case they contracted the variant.
Ever since the variant’s entry into the country, health experts have become worried about the Philippines’ ability to deal with a possible resurgence.
President Rodrigo Duterte said in his recent weekly address this Monday, 19 July, “The reported local cases in the country are a cause for serious alarm and concern…We may need to re-impose stricter restrictions to avoid mass gatherings and prevent super-spreader events.”
The Government has already imposed a travel ban on India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates and Oman. (RF