PH must strictly screen people coming from abroad to block COVID-19 Delta variant – expert
MANILA, Philippines — The government should strictly monitor people coming from abroad to block the entry of the dreaded Delta variant of COVID-19, which has caused disastrous surges in India, a health expert said on Monday during the taped weekly briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to infectious diseases expert Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, the Delta variant is 60 percent more infectious than the United Kingdom variant — which by itself is 60 percent more infectious than the original strain from Wuhan, China.
Salvana is the director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health at the University of the Philippines Manila.
“The Delta variant is really scary, and this is all the more the reason why we really should police our borders, because it only takes one variant to get in, and an India-like surge could to us because a really high number of people can be infected by one person who has the Delta variant,” Salvana said, speaking partly in Filipino.
A person with the original virus, he pointed out, could infect two other people. Someone with the Delta variant can infect up to eight others.
“So it’s up to four times more contagious than the original virus from Wuhan. So this will really be a big disaster if we do not keep it out of the country,” Salvana said.
To prevent that from happening, Salvana presented a “10+4” quarantine scheme for people coming into the Philippines.
This means that these people would not be tested immediately on arrival. Instead, they would undergo a 10-day quarantine. They would then be tested on the seventh day, which Salvan said would be a better time to detect the virus.
Then for four more days, they would undergo home quarantine.
The scheme is really aimed at protecting local residents from people coming from abroad, Salvana said.
He explained that people coming from abroad would not immediately test positive if they had been infected during transit.
“So arrival testing is not recommended by the technical advisory group, and this is why we test on the seventh day so that, if they had been infected during transit, we have a good chance of picking it up,” Salvana said.
In late March 2021, Metro Manila and the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna went into a strict lockdown again due to the spread of COVID-19 variants, which included the UK variant — or what is now called Alpha.
At one point, the Philippines recorded a count of over 200,000 COVID-19 cases nationwide. In contrast, India, where the Delta variant appeared to originate, set a world record, recording more than 349,000 cases in one day.
That proved the potency of the Delta variant, according to Salvana.
“There are now four variants of concern — Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. We still don’t have community transmissions of Gamma and Delta. And we really want to keep it that way. That is why our stringent protocols are very important,” he said.
“‘Delta, as I have mentioned, is 60 percent increased transmission over Alpha — or the UK variant, which is already 60 percent increased transmission over the original virus from Wuhan. So this is really fierce,” Salvana added.
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