Top health expert bats for tighter border patrol vs equally deadly Gamma variant

Published August 4, 2021, 7:29 PM

by Ben Rosario

“Good border control” will keep Philippines protected against the Gamma variant, another 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) modification that is suspected of causing reinfection of people and was reported to have been the cause of deaths among young children in Brazil.


In a congressional briefing of the COVID-19 situation in the country on Wednesday, August 4, Dr. Edsel Salvana of the University of the Philippines Molecular Biology and Biotechnology-National Institute of Health, aired concern over this variant which has been initially reported in returning overseas workers infected with COVID-19.

Salvana said the Gamma variant has caused numerous reinfection in Brazil which is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

Salvana called for stricter “border control” to prevent the Gamma variant virus from breaching the Philippines. News reports have indicated that the Gamma variant is dominant in Brazil and is believed to have caused many deaths among pregnant women and children.

Salvana said the Delta remains to be the variant that could threaten the country with an even more damaging pandemic situation.

The infectious disease expert described the Delta variant as the “fastest and fittest” coronavirus type that is 60 percent more transmissible compared to the equally feared Alpha variant that was first discovered in the United Kingdom and the Beta variant that was detected in South Africa.

There were 216 Delta variant cases reported so far in the country. At least 17 are still active cases.

Areas in the country with Delta variant cases include Regions 1, 3, 4A, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and NCR where Delta variant cases were detected in Malabon, Makati, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Valenzuela, Pasig, Manila, and Caloocan.

The health panel chaired by Quezon Rep. Helen Tan invited Department of Health officials and other experts to provide the virtual briefing on the COVID 19 situation in the country.

Lawmakers said the briefing is important in order for them to assess government’s response to prepare for a possible surge in COVID -19 cases due to the Delta variant.

During the briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque assured committee members that the DOH will strengthen its implementation of bio-surveillance especially during the two week imposition of the strict Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

Further, Duque said closer coordination between the DOH and the public will be carried out especially in “high risk areas.” Also included in the heightened action against the Delta variant is the provision of telemedicine services during the lockdown, stockpiling of personal protective equipment and oxygen tanks and vigorous implementation of the vaccination program.