DOH Eastern Visayas to send swab samples to PH Genome Center for presence of COVID-19 ‘variant’
TACLOBAN CITY –– The Department of Health (DOH) in Eastern Visayas will send 90 swab samples to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) to determine if there is a “variant of concern” in the region.
Dr. Marc Steven Capungcol, head of the regional epidemiology and surveillance unit (RESU), said they noticed an increase of COVID-19 cases in the region which may be caused by a “variant of concern.”
“Next week, we will be sending 90 samples to the Philippine Genome Center for sequencing for us to know if there is now a variant of concern here in the region,” he said in a virtual press conference.
The DOH’s move came after a 35-year-old seaman from the region was infected with the UK variant or B.1.1.7 SARS-COV-2.
Capungcol said the patient, who was previously assigned in Senegal, Africa, went to the National Capital Region from March 18 to April 7.
“Yes, we are still free of any variant of concern. But with this report, with the relaxation of some protocols, it is not impossible that we might observe a variant of concern here in our region,” he said.
Capungcol said the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the region may be caused by mass gatherings, including family parties and celebrations.
“And people are becoming complacent,” he said.
He urged the public to continue observing all the minimum health standards like the wearing of face shields and face masks as well as practicing physical distancing to help reduce the COVID-19 cases in the region.
As of Thursday, Eastern Visayas has 101 new COVID-19 cases.
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