Beta variant of COVID-19 has reached Puerto Princesa – local officials
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Philippines ―Local officials here confirmed Wednesday that the South African coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant, also known as the Beta variant, had been detected in the city.
According to lawyer Norman Yap, spokesperson of the City Inter-Agency Task Force, this is one of the reasons why the city government will no longer appeal for a lower quarantine classification after the national government announced that the city will remain under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until July 15.
“We received confirmation from the Philippine Genome Center that the South African variant has reached Puerto Princesa City. We don’t really know where this variant came from. But we have confirmation now it’s here in the city,” Yap said.
A patient with the Beta variant, who had no travel history, was reported to have been swabbed on June 1. But the patient had since recovered, and contact-tracing was started.
The Beta variant, first detected in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, is classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern (VOC). This means that it has been proven to cause serious illness and is more transmissible than other variants.
It was also proven to be more prevalent in young people with no underlying health conditions.
Researchers posited that it may have emerged in either July or August 2020.
Yap added that apart from the discovery of the Beta variant, the city IATF also resolved to adopt the MECQ extension because the current healthcare system in the city is still overwhelmed by COVID-19 infections both in the city and the municipalities.
“Nine beds only are available out of 87 dedicated to COVID patients in our hospitals, and mortality is still high, deaths continue,” Yap said.
He urged residents to take advantage of Puerto Princesa’s MECQ classification because it meant that more vaccines had been allocated by the national government.
Dr. Ralph Flores, who is in charge of the city’s contact tracing efforts and was also at the live briefing, said that getting vaccinated had been proven to be effective worldwide even against new COVID-19 variants.
He urged the public to get vaccinated.
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