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More vaccines for areas under ‘Delta’ threat

Additional Covid-19 vaccines will be deployed to areas where the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus was detected.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, said the inoculation program in Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, National Capital Region, and other areas of concern will be prioritized.

“Because of the Delta, we are redeploying our vaccines to the Delta variant area of concerns in Region 10, in NCR, in Region 6, and those under ECQ and MECQ areas,” he said in a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao Monday night.

There is also a possibility to impose stricter measures, according to the President, to prevent local transmission of the variant that is said to be more aggressive and fatal.

The Delta variant, first discovered in India, is 60 percent more transmissible than the original strain and the common Alpha variant or B.1.1.7 UK lineage.

A person with the original strain can infect two others while a person with Delta variant can transmit the disease to up to eight persons, health experts said.

Among non-areas of concern, Galvez said there is equitable distribution, based on the local government units’ projected eligible population for the vaccination program.

The NCR receives the larger volume supply of vaccines as it has a huge target population and is highly susceptible to Covid-19 infection, followed by Region 4-A, Region 3, and Region 7.

“We are very fair in our vaccine distribution. It is based on the targeted population and on the priority targets per sector,” he said.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año assured that local government units and the Philippine National Police will enforce all laws, ordinances, omnibus guidelines, and community quarantine protocols to keep the people safe from possible local transmission of more contagious Delta variant.

Año said the department will soon issue a memorandum reminding LGUs to immediately prepare strategic plans against the possible local transmission of Delta variant.

“The Delta variant is seen as the root cause in the spike of the cases in other countries, like India and Indonesia,’’ he said.

He said border control, especially in the international airports and seaports will be intensified while the local chief executives will lead the aggressive mass vaccination and faster testing, tracing, contact tracing, and isolation of patients infected with the virus.

Through Operation:Listo, the protocol for the management of emerging infectious diseases, Año said there will be an increased number of quarantine and isolation and health care facilities.

Año said the country has, so far, recorded 36 Delta variant cases, with two deaths.

He reminded the public to strictly adhere to the minimum public health standards as the Delta variant cannot be detected by ordinary testing and may be traced only through “venom sequencing’’.

He noted that other countries, like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Malaysia are currently enforcing lockdowns to prevent the Delta variant transmission.

PNP chief, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, said the surge of Delta variant in India should remind everyone the importance of strictly observing health protocols.

“We all witnessed what happened in India and we do not want it to happen in our country now that we have confirmed cases of the Delta variant and known fatalities,” he said.

Duterte is eyeing stricter health measures in preparation for the possible local transmission of the Delta variant.

“The reported local cases in the country are a cause for serious alarm and concern. Again it’s redundant but it’s good as any warning that can be given to people. We may need to impose stricter restrictions to avoid mass gathering and prevent super spreader events,” Duterte said during his Talk to the People program.

Eleazar assured that the PNP is ready should Duterte decide to implement stricter quarantine measures.

“I have tasked all police offices and units to coordinate closely with their respective LGUs so that they may come up with stringent measures to curb the spread of the variant,” he added.*PNA

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