(UPDATED) The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, January 29, 2021, scored independent research group Octa for immediately linking the surge in coronavirus cases in Cebu to the new Sars-CoV-2 variant from the United Kingdom (UK).
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there is no concrete evidence yet of the new variant being present in Cebu.
"It is too early to identify the factors why it is increasing, especially on whether it is caused by the UK variant. This may only cause panic to the people," Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing on Friday.
"Let us try to reserve this announcement on the UK variant when we already have concrete evidence," she added.
Vergeire said the National Task Force Against Covid-19 is already aware of the situation in Cebu.
"We have really seen that cases are on the rise in Cebu. The National Task Force was already informed of this situation. We are closely monitoring this area," said Vergeire.
She urged local government units to look into the necessity of imposing localized lockdowns.
She also urged them to enhance their surveillance and monitoring efforts to identify possible clustering of cases.
Vergeire also said it is important for Cebu to tighten its borders by strictly implementing the mandatory quarantine and testing of arriving travelers.
She reminded all residents to strictly implement minimum public health standards, such as wearing of face masks and face shields, and physical distancing.
So far, the DOH has confirmed 17 cases of infection caused by the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant, including a cluster of 12 cases in Bontoc, Mountain Province.
In its latest report, Octa Research cited concerns that the new variant is spreading in parts of Cebu. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)