AVOID unnecessary travels and gatherings. Wear face masks and face shields. Observe physical distancing.

The Department of Health (DOH) issued these reminders on Thursday evening, July 22, 2021, after confirming local transmission of the Delta variant, the most virulent form of Sars-CoV-2 that is causing steep increases in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in several countries.

The DOH said “clusters of Delta variant cases were seen to be linked to other local cases,” indicating local transmission.

This was confirmed through the phylogenetic analysis conducted by the University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center, and case investigation by the DOH Epidemiology Bureau and the regional and local epidemiology and surveillance units.

The DOH said the best defense against any Covid-19 variant are still the “correct and consistent adherence to the minimum public health standards, and getting vaccinated.” The minimum public health standards include proper wearing of face masks and face shields, and observing physical distancing.

Local government units (LGUs), meanwhile, are urged to shorten the duration of case detection to isolation, immediately isolate symptomatic patients, ramp up their vaccination, and prioritize the senior citizens and people with underlying conditions.

The DOH also emphasized the need to continuously enforce strict border control measures and intensify local responses.

The government has been strengthening the implementation of PDITR (prevent, detect, isolate, treat and reintegrate) at the local level and augmenting the healthcare capacity.

“Both the national and local governments have been continuously working together to intensify the implementation of the prevent, detect, isolate, treat and reintegrate response strategies and increase the country’s health system capacity to be able to manage cases,” the agency said.

Among the measures taken is to ensure that there are enough Covid-19-dedicated beds in regular wards, intensive care units (ICU), and temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMF), especially in areas experiencing case spikes.

The government is also preparing for enough supplies of Covid-19 medicines, oxygen tanks and critical care equipment in hospitals as well as augmenting the medical workforce.

As of July 22, the UP-PGC has detected 47 cases of the Delta variant, with three deaths and eight active cases.

Of the 47, 23 are local cases and 24 are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs). (PR, HDT)