THERE is no recorded Delta variant case in Central Visayas, but local officials in Cebu are making sure that there are enough beds, medicines and medical equipment to cope with a possible surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday evening, July 22, 2021, reminded the public to avoid unnecessary travels and gatherings, wear masks and face shields, and observe physical distancing as it confirmed local transmission of the Delta variant.

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.

What LGUs can do

Local government units (LGUs) 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).

Cebu City

Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the Cebu City Emergency Operations Center (EOC), said they have raised the number of contact tracers to 426 from the 300 reported in March.

A total of 955 individuals were trained in contact tracing in 2020. They include personnel of City Health Department (CHD), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Armed Forces of the Philippines, and job order workers.

Garganera said some were deployed as part of the task force inspecting the establishments, but are now back with the contact tracing team because of the increasing cases of Covid-19.

Garganera also said they are set to reactivate four more barangay isolation centers (BICs) with 500 beds.

As of July 22, EOC data showed there were 192 unoccupied beds in BICs while 285 were occupied.

Other quarantine facilities in the city are the Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC) with 80 beds available and 80 beds occupied; and quarantine hotels with 31 available beds and 203 beds occupied.

Garganera said the City will use the Cebu City Sports Center as quarantine facility if the need arises. This is still being studied by Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr., he said.

EOC data showed there were 1,480 active Covid-19 cases in Cebu City as of July 22.

Lapu-Lapu City

Nagiel Bañacia, head of the Lapu-Lapu City Disaster Risk and Management Office, said they will be intensifying their “rekorida,” or mobile announcements, in the barangays to remind residents to wear face masks, adhere to health safety protocols, raise awareness about the risks posed by the Delta variant, and urge the people to get the vaccine.

Lapu-Lapu City posted 137 new Covid-19 cases on July 22, exceeding 100 for the first time since the first quarter of this year.

Bañacia said most of those infected recently are urban poor residents. Most developed symptoms of Covid-19.

“I was expecting the cases to reach 100 two weeks ago. If you ask me how I feel now, I’d say I feel relaxed because we have traced the virus,” he said.

“I’m expecting cases to go up to 200 because we have to trace 38 other people who may have come into contact with an infected person. We already know where these infected persons are,” he added.

Lawyer James Sayson, deputy officer of the Lapu-Lapu City Vaccination Operation Center, said they will coordinate with the police in strictly enforcing the minimum health protocols.

He said a lot of people seemed to have become complacent because of the ongoing vaccination program.

He stressed that even vaccinated individuals must continue to wear a face mask and face shield, and observe physical distancing.

No Delta variant

Dr. Jaime Bernadas, DOH 7 director, said they have not received a biosurveillance report on the samples sent two weeks ago to the University of the Philippines Philippine Genome Center for whole genome sequencing.

So far, the Delta variant has not been detected in the samples taken in Central Visayas.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, chief pathologist of DOH 7 said the DOH 7 has sent a total of 1,098 coronavirus-positive samples to PGC since Jan. 28, 2021.

Of these, 884 were from the community and 214 were collected from arriving overseas Filipino workers and returning overseas Filipinos.

Of the total, 96 were positive for the P.3 (Theta) variant, 16 were positive for the Beta variant (B.1.351) and 21 contained the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant.

Regionwide, 518 new Covid-19 cases were recorded Thursday, July 22, along with 281 new recoveries and 12 additional deaths.

The highest was reported in Cebu City at 211, followed by 68 in Mandaue City, 58 in Bohol, 44 in Lapu-Lapu City, 27 in Negros Oriental, 11 in Cebu Province and one in Siquijor.

There were 9,473 active cases regionwide. Negros Oriental recorded the highest at 3,207, followed by Cebu City with 1,748, Bohol with 1,740, Cebu Province with 1,407, Lapu-Lapu City with 764, Mandaue City with 560 and Siquijor with 47. (SunStar Philippines, WBS, JJL, GCM)