DOH E. Visayas identifies 14 areas with local COVID transmission

TACLOBAN CITY - As the country grapples with the surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, the Department of Health-Eastern Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-EVCHD) has identified 14 areas with local transmission or locally acquired cases and reported two new deaths in the region.

At least 48 villages in the region are under investigation for possible clustering of cases or with two or more patients.

In Leyte province, Tacloban City, Ormoc City, and the municipalities of Palo, Carigara, Tanauan, Barugo, Matag-ob, and Dulag have confirmed local cases of COVID-19.

Calbayog City, Catbalogan City, Basey, and Villareal, Samar, as well as Lawaan, and Giporlos in Eastern Samar, and Almeria town in Biliran have also reported local cases or the source of the transmission of a case is within the catchment. 

John Paul Roca, DOH-EVCHD clarified that local cases and local transmission are essentially the same. "Local transmission is not widespread since they are confined or isolated cases, and the sources are identified," he said.

He added that these areas have patients with a history of exposure to COVID-19 patients. However, the local health department assured the public that these patients have been admitted to COVID isolation facilities, and intensified contact tracing measures are being done by the local government units and the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU). The DOH-EVCHD said 98 percent of the confirmed cases have been traced with their close contacts already tested. 

The DOH-EVCHD also said that not all people coming from the said areas should undergo quarantine since the source of the infection can still be identified. 

Meanwhile, two new COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the region. They are Patients EV-1217 from Ormoc City and EV-1296 from Dulag, Leyte. This brings the total number of deaths to five in Region 8. 

Patient EV-1217 is an 80-year-old male and an uncoordinated Locally Stranded Individual. He developed symptoms such as difficulty in breathing on August 6 and was immediately transferred to a Community Isolation Unit. He died on August 7.

Patient EV-1296 is a 74-year-old female with no history of travel and exposure to a known COVID-19 case. She had a pre-existing condition and was admitted to a private hospital on August 6. She tested positive for the virus the day she died on August 11.

With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the region, the DOH and the LGUs will implement stricter enforcement of localized lockdowns and Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE).  

CODE is patient-and-community-focused approach wherein the DOH will assist LGUs through community engagement activities in order to promote preventive behaviors to address the surge of cases and their sources.

"We are calling for the cooperation of the different government agencies and the public. Hindi ito laban ng iilan lang. Sa panahon ngayon, kailangan nating lahat kumilos. Kinakailangan natin ang whole-of-government, whole-of-system, whole-of-nation approach."