PH 'well prepared' vs Delta variant — Galvez

Published July 16, 2021, 12:59 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The country is “well prepared” against the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. declared Friday, July 16.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. assures the public on July 16, 2021 that the country is well prepared against the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Galvez, vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, said they have anticipated the entry of the Delta variant in the country “months ago” after an outbreak in India.

“Well prepared na tayo sa Delta. Nakita natin noong nagkaroon ng outbreak sa India that we have to prepare everything in large-scale (We are well prepared against the Delta. We have seen after an outbreak in India that we have to prepare everything in large-scale),” he said in a media breifing with experts from the Department of Health (DOH).

Galvez’ remark came as the DOH announced that Delta, the variant first detected in India, has officially entered the country after 16 new cases were found — including 11 patients that acquired the disease locally.

Of the 16 new cases, 15 have already recovered while one other died.

Two cases were found in the National Capital Region (NCR); one in Central Luzon (Region 3); two in Western Visayas (Region 6); six in Northern Mindanao (Region 10); and five were returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) with travel history from United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and United Kingdom (UK) among others.

However, the DOH said that there is no local transmission yet of the feared Delta variant in the communities.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant is slowly becoming the dominant variant of the coronavirus as it spread to 104 countries.

It is the same variant that is seen as the cause of the recent outbreak of cases in Indonesia, and in India earlier this year.

After witnessing the India outbreak, Galvez said the national government had increased the capacity of hospitals in the LGUs to prepare for the possible spike of infections.

He also said modular hospitals were built by isolation czar and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar to augment the hospital capacity of LGUs.

When they were alerted by the DOH about the entry of the Delta variant, Galvez said they were immediately called in an emergency meeting by Health Sec. Francisco Duque III to lay down the plans in countering its spread.

“We already have an SOP [standard operating procedure] if ever we encounter these variants of concern. We were called in an emergency conference by the SOH [Secretary of Health] and we were instructed to go to the ground, to the local government units (LGUs),” he said.

To prepare the capacity of LGUs, Galvez said top NTF officials will visit Region 10, particularly in Cagayan de Oro (CDO), where a clustering of the Delta variant is observed.

“We will [meet] with Region 10 LGUs to prepare them and contain the area. Paiigtingin natin ang (We will intensify) contact tracing, testing, and immediate isolation ng (of) possible persons of interest,” he noted.

“CDO is becoming a concern of interest because we are not seeing a decrease in the number of cases due to the presence of different variants,” he added.

A command center will also be built at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City which will house the office of the NTF and the One Hospital Command, a sub-unit which organizes the admission of COVID-infected individuals in government hospitals.

Despite the preparations, Galvez reiterated that the public should strictly obey the minimum public health standards (MPHS) to avoid the further spread of the Delta variant.

“We have seen tha the countries that neglected the sptrict implementation of the MPHS experienced a surge. Our experts are here to warn us. We have a very strong genome sequence analysis that’s why we have these advanced information and we are able to prepare,” he said.