The Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development has directed the immediate tracing and isolation of all close contacts of the two confirmed local cases with the Delta variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 detected in the municipality of Pandan in Antique province.
“We have also advised the local government unit to determine a facility we could use as an isolation facility for those close contacts, suspects while waiting for their result. We would like them to be separated from the rest of the suspected Covid-19 while determining their type of variant,” DOH WV CHD director Adriano Suba-an said in a virtual press conference yesterday.
The two cases, a couple from Antique, are part of the 16 new Delta variant cases reported by the DOH, the Philippine Genome Center, and the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health.
Both are senior citizens who did not receive Covid-19 vaccines. They showed symptoms on May 27 and tested positive for the disease on May 29.
Their specimens were sent to the PGC for genome sequencing on June 11 and the result that came out yesterday showed they were positive for the variant.
“Of the two cases, one has completed the mandatory quarantine and has been tagged as recovered while the other one expired on May 31, 2021,” Suba-an said.
Dr. Glen Alonsabe, regional epidemiologist, said based on the case investigation form that they were able to retrieve, the cases were admitted to the Justice Calixto Zaldivar Hospital in Pandan on May 27 but the woman with Type 2 diabetes died on May 31.
“It took more than a month for the result to be released from the Philippine Genome Center because of the bulk of specimens that are being sent there,” Alonsabe said.
Initially, the backtracking done by the provincial epidemiologist showed that the couple had contact with one Covid-19-positive patient, a returning overseas Filipino relative.
“This information still needs to be validated in order for us to really establish the source of the infection. That is only one angle that so far we have gotten from Antique and we are still looking at other possible sources of contacts and how these two cases were infected,” he added.
Alonsabe said they would backtrack until the middle of May even though most of their close contacts have already recovered.
Apart from the two, there were also Delta variant cases that were tagged in Western Visayas.
However, since they are ROFs and were detected in their ports of entry, they were quarantined and were only allowed to return to the region when they have already recovered.
Amid the discovery of the new variant, Suba-an advised the public to “remain calm and vigilant” as he emphasized the need to observe the minimum public health standards that could help prevent the risk of transmission.
He added that currently, there is a mapping of cases, particularly in areas where there is a surge or a clustering of cases, not only in Antique but in the region.
Samples from these areas are sent to the PGC for genome sequencing.
They are also looking at the movement of people because “it seems there is a correlation between the movement and mixing of the population to the increasing number of cases.”
Meanwhile, Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao said the discovery of the Delta cases is “water under the bridge” because it is already old and it should not cause unnecessary fear among Antiqueños.
It was unfortunate, however, that the result was only released after almost two months.
Cadiao said she found it “moot and academic” as local health workers have contained it and other family members of the couple do not even want to discuss it.
“Our economy is already picking up and we don’t want that our general community quarantine classification to be elevated again,” she said.
The DOH’s proposed contact tracing for the first and second layers of the couple is no longer needed because the Covid-19 Delta variant cases are no longer new, Cadiao added.*PNA