DUMAGUETE CITY – The provincial government of Negros Oriental has reported additional cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variants even as the number of infections continues to decline.

Assistant Provincial Health Officer Dr. Liland Estacion, Covid-19 incident commander of the province’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), in a virtual presser late Wednesday afternoon said these include three Alpha (B.1.1.7) and three Beta (B.1.351) cases of the virus mutations.

The Alpha was first detected in the United Kingdom and the Beta, in South Africa.

The latest Alpha cases were reported in Siaton, Bais City, and Sta. Catalina, while the Beta variant patients are from Valencia, Dumaguete City, and Sibulan.

Estacion said the cases were tested in Manila but have recovered and already negative of the virus by the time they returned to the province.

“But we are requesting contact tracers to identify people here who were exposed to them up to the third generation,” she added in mixed English and Cebuano dialect.

It was not immediately known whether the Covid-19 patients were returning overseas Filipinos or overseas Filipino workers and if they contracted the variants abroad, Estacion said.

Meanwhile, health authorities are investigating a resident of Tanjay City who was reported to have been exposed to a Delta variant patient, she said.

The person had previously recovered from the original Covid-19 virus but was lately exposed to a case of the more transmissible variant.

“We will be communicating with the contact tracers (in Tanjay) and bantayan ni nato siya pag-ayo (we will keep a tight eye on this individual)” Estacion said.

As of July 21, the total Covid-19 case count of Negros Oriental is 10,202, broken down into 9,284 recoveries, 721 active cases, and 197 mortalities.

Estacion said the number of Covid-19 cases in the province is slowly but steadily dropping. However, she cautioned the public against being complacent and reminded them to always observe the minimum health protocols.

Following an unprecedented surge of coronavirus cases, President Rodrigo Duterte placed Negros Oriental under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from June 16 to 30 and extended it from July 1 to 15 to stem the spread of infections.

The MECQ was downgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions from July 16 to July 31. (PNA)