Spread of Delta variant ‘prevented’ –expert
MANILA, Philippines — There has been no community transmission of the more transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant even if 13 cases had been detected in the country, according to infectious disease expert Edsel Salvana, a member of the technical advisory group of the Department of Health (DOH).
“It looks like we have prevented its spread to the community for now, although this is being closely monitored because what the Delta variant has caused in other countries is scary,” Salvana said at the Laging Handa briefing on Friday.
Salvana said all 13 individuals were returning travelers, and nine of them were from the COVID-19-stricken vessel Athens Bridge, which was allowed to dock in Manila last month after being refused entry in Vietnam.
The doctor stressed the need for caution and compliance with health and quarantine protocols to prevent the spread of the Delta variant, which was first detected in India. The Delta variant, he said, had been found to be 60 percent more infectious than the Alpha variant and apparently behind the surge in cases in other countries.
It also appeared to cause more severe cases of COVID-19, he said, based on his experience caring for four out of the 13 Delta variant cases detected locally, one of whom had died.
Also on Friday, the government reset to June 22 —instead of June 16— the implementation of a shorter, seven-day quarantine for incoming international travelers who had been fully vaccinated in the Philippines. This means that such passengers who are arriving before the 22nd must still stay for 10 days in a quarantine facility, take a swab test on the seventh day, and complete a four-day home quarantine.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) moved the date to complete the setup of a validation process for vaccination certificates, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
The IATF earlier said that for these inbound travelers to be allowed to take the shorter quarantine, their vaccination cards must be verified prior to their departure from the Philippines. They must also get a certification from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) or the health officer of the local government which administered their last dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The certification must be presented to the Bureau of Quarantine for reverification upon their return to the country.
The new rules would also do away with the need for them to take a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, unless they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.
Meanwhile, the DOH on Friday said it would recommend that the swab test requirement be dropped for returning Filipinos who were already vaccinated abroad.
The DOH recorded 6,833 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, bringing the national case count to 1,346,276.
At least 3,441 patients have recovered, raising the total number of survivors to 1,261,115.
But 110 more patients succumbed to the disease, pushing the death toll to 23,385.
The DOH also reported that of the 43,635 people tested on Wednesday, 5,498 were found to have the virus, for a positivity rate of 12.6 percent. INQ
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