The province of Negros Oriental is bracing for the possible entry of new variants of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) amid reports that the neighboring province of Negros Occidental already has four suspected carriers of the UK variant.
Negros Oriental provincial health officer, Dr. Liland Estacion, health committee chair of the province’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, in a virtual press briefing yesterday afternoon, said “containment is the key” in case the UK or any other variant is reported in the province.
She admitted, however, that there is no way to test the new variants.
Swab specimens, she said, will have to be forwarded to other testing facilities that are capable of detecting the new form of the virus.
Early this week, Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson was quoted in media reports as saying that there were at least four suspected carriers of the UK variant detected in the province.
Estacion admitted that the borders of Negros Oriental in the municipality of Vallehermoso, which shares borders with San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, are now open, but the provincial government is gearing up to man the quarantine control points in the area.
“Not as yet, but soon, as we are still organizing the teams who will be manning the borders,” she said in the dialect.
“And if the report is true, we should be stricter with our health protocols,” she added, as Covid-19 cases continue to surge in Negros Oriental, particularly in Dumaguete.
She said the province received 516 swab test results on Monday and Tuesday, and 481 of these turned up negative, including those of 19 recoveries, 24 new positives, one re-infection, and 10 repeat-swab positive cases.
The re-infection is the first of its kind reported in the city, she said.
The patient was previously declared recovered from Covid-19 but, for still unknown reason, had once again tested positive weeks later.
Estacion said the 24 new cases are from Dumaguete – 12, Guihulngan City – 3, and Ayungon, Bindoy, Tanjay City, Dauin, Jimalalud, Sta. Catalina, Sibulan, Bais City, and Valencia – 1 each.
Three more deaths were also reported in the province, she added.
The recoveries, meanwhile, are from Dumaguete – 10, Dauin, Manjuyod, and Siaton – 2 each, and Valencia, Guihulngan City, and Tayasan – 1 each. As of yesterday, Negros Oriental’s total Covid-19 caseload is 1,346, broken down into 1,090 recoveries, 217 active cases, and 39 deaths.*PNA