THE member of the Technical Advisory Group of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases who blamed the recent surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases here in Cebu on the Provincial Government’s “less stringent protocols” says he has full detailed data to back his claims.
However, Dr. Edsel Salvana said he will defer to the IATF and the Department of Health (DOH) on whether to release the data.
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia had challenged him to provide evidence that the outbreak of Covid cases caused by the delta variant was caused by the Province’s swab-upon-arrival policy for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
But Salvana, a molecular epidemiologist from the University of the Philippines, clarified that he was not blaming Cebu.
In a post on his Facebook account on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, Salvana said all should help each other during this pandemic.
“I have no interest in pointing fingers. The reason we brought up border control was to protect people and slow down the entry of delta into the country,” he said.
The recent controversy stemmed from Salvana’s column “Clinical Matters” on Manila Bulletin that was published on Aug. 10, where he was quoted as saying they warned that if delta got into Cebu “due to lax border control, a bad surge was forthcoming.”
“Delta is now in Cebu causing a large spike in cases, overwhelming their healthcare system. Some of the Delta outbreaks in Mindano have been linked through whole genome analysis to returning Filipinos who entered through the Cebu airport. While it might have been impossible to completely stop Delta from coming in, it could have been further slowed down,” reads a portion of his column.
In her previous statement, Garcia said the timeline of cases show a different scenario, adding that the first delta cases in the country were recorded in Luzon.
As of Aug. 5, Central Visayas, the DOH 7 said, had at least 36 confirmed cases of Covid-19 caused by the delta variant. However, the DOH 7 said all the cases or samples came from the community and had no history of travel outside the country.
On his Facebook post, Salvana said they came to Cebu last June to warn that the Province’s testing policy for arriving OFWs and ROFs was “flawed.”
He cited US Centers for Disease Control models where patients can test negative on arrival, but test positive afterwards.
He also shared how proper quarantine and isolation prevented further transmission.
He said no quarantine protocols are perfect, but not following these protocols increases the risk.
Salvana emphasized the role of vaccination in the fight against Covid-19. (WBS)