Alert against COVID-19 Delta variant up in Mindanao
DAVAO CITY — Alert against the COVID-19 Delta variant prompted police officers in Zamboanga Sibugay to arrest two habal-habal (motorcycle) drivers who reportedly helped travelers enter the province without the required RT-PCR test results and other documents.
Police Colonel Rexmel Reyes, director of the Zamboanga City police office, announced on Facebook the arrest of Nuruddin Attasa Samsuddin, 38, and Rodrigo Mananquil Maquilang, 52, at the border of Zamboanga City’s Barangay Licomo as they were entering Zamboanga Sibugay at 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 12, with passengers who could not present their required RT-PCR test results, S-Pass apps, and valid IDs.
The two drivers, both residents of San Pedro, Tungawan town of Zamboanga Sibugay, were paid P3,000 each for the trip. They were now under the custody of Zamboanga City Police Station 1 for documentation and the filing of appropriate charges in court.
Police, however, ignored reporters’ questions about what happened to the two passengers; whether they were also arrested or were asked to turn back. Inquirer’s request to interview the arrested drivers was turned down because the two were still undergoing quarantine.
Reyes said the arrest came as the province heightened all health, safety, and security measures on all borders, seaports, and airports because of the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes severe respiratory ailment COVID-19.
“Investigation is ongoing to determine when (the drivers) started (aiding travelers) and we don’t have (any information) if those inbound travelers were tested positive (for COVID-19),” Lt. Agnes Miro, spokesperson of the ZCPO, said in a text message.
In Pagadian City, health authorities already sent to Manila for genome sequencing the specimens from a family who lost three members to COVID-19 in just a span of two weeks.
Audrey Basas-Cabato, executive director of the Pagadian City Emergency Operations Center, expressed concern over the Ortiz family in Barangay Balangasan, Pagadian City, whose 38-year old son Adel died on July 29, only two days after he tested positive for the virus.
Adel was a public school teacher and had been healthy before he got sick. His mother Catalina, 68, a retired public school teacher, also contracted the disease and died on August 6, while Catalina’s husband Leopoldo, 69, also tested positive for the virus and died on August 11.
A day after Leopoldo’s death, Adel’s brother Roel was admitted to a private hospital after complaining of breathing difficulty. Roel, who already tested positive for the new coronavirus earlier, is currently in critical condition in the hospital.
Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center chief Dr. Anatalio Cagampang Jr. said in an interview they already sent specimens of the Ortiz family and other suspected cases to Manila for genome sequencing to determine the possible presence of Delta variant but it would take about a month before they could get the results. So far, Zamboanga del Sur has not reported any case of the Delta variant yet.
In Davao City, the number of new cases went up again registering 272 as of 5 p.m. Saturday, August 14, bringing to 3, 431 the total active cases of COVID-19 in the city. Davao City’s number of new cases is 56 percent of the 482 new COVID-19 infections in the entire Davao region for that day alone.
Earlier, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said the city had been on alert for a possible entry of the Delta variant because of reports that this variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus was “more transmissible” and could possibly generate another surge of COVID-19 cases.
“We tag especially Delta (variant) suspects if they come from places with a lot of Delta cases like India, Indonesia, and the National Capital Region,” she said over the city government-run Davao City Disaster Radio last week.
But data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that of the five confirmed cases of Delta variant in Davao City, only one had a travel history to Zambia, Africa, while the rest were local cases, which means that the Delta variant could already be circulating in local communities.
– With Carmelito Francisco, Inquirer Mindanao
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