Zamboanga Sur gov asks IATF to place province under MECQ amid COVID-19 Delta concerns
PAGADIAN CITY—Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Victor Yu has asked the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on infectious diseases to place his province back to a stricter quarantine amid the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Yu was responding to concerns raised by local health authorities over the time it takes for the Philippine Genome Center in Manila to send back the results of the specimens that determine their patients’ virus variant.
Dr. Anatalio Cagampang Jr., chief of the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center (ZSMC), said it takes about a month for the genome center to return the results, so the patients had recovered before they know the variant.
The province is still awaiting the genome sequence results of the specimens they sent to the PGC early this August to determine whether the family, who lost at least three members in two weeks, was infected with the Delta variant.
Cagampang said the 22-year-old overseas worker from Malaysia, later confirmed to be the first case of Delta variant in the province, had recovered when his results arrived on Aug. 6 in this city, making it hard for them to trace his close contacts.
Yu said a stricter quarantine status would be more effective to control the spread of COVID-19 cases, as the Zamboanga del Sur IATF passed a resolution asking the national IATF to place the province back under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
In ZSMC alone, 23 healthcare workers were infected with COVID-19, Cagampang said. Health authorities are still gathering data about the infection rate in other hospitals.
In June, when the province was under MECQ, COVID-19 cases went down to 200 from 900 in April.
Cagampang said they had yet to identify which variant infected their healthcare staff as the symptoms they experienced seemed to have spread faster than those in the past.
“Months ago, hospital personnel usually get the symptoms after 10 to 14 days of hospital duty, but after the swamp of patients at the ZDSMC, our healthcare staff usually get the symptoms on the first or second day. There’s something wrong, (the disease) seems to spread faster,” he added.
As of Aug. 22, the Zamboanga del Sur provincial jail remained on lockdown after 42 inmates tested positive for COVID-19. All infected inmates had been placed in a separate isolation area inside the jail compound, Yu said.
There were only 270 COVID-19 beds in the province, but the patients with moderate and severe disease have reached more than 300, he said.
“At the ZSMC alone, 28 COVID-19 patients have been placed inside tents, while four others are inside vehicles parked outside the hospital,” Yu said.
He called on the public to strictly follow health protocols.
The Department of Health recently classified Zamboanga del Sur as under Alert Level 4 and pushed for more beds for COVID-19 patients, more intensive care units (ICU) bed allocation, enough medical oxygen supply, and granular lockdowns in areas with higher cases.
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