DOH 7 tightens surveillance to contain spread of new variants

Wenilyn Sabalo
·2 min read

THE Department of Health (DOH) 7 will collect and send new samples of the P.3 variants of Sars-CoV-2 first reported in Central Visayas to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC).

DOH 7 spokesperson and chief pathologist Mary Jean Loreche said the new samples will be tested as part of the Health Department’s surveillance of the new variants.

Loreche said this time, they will concentrate more on samples from households and workplaces.

As of Wednesday, March 24, 2021, Central Visayas still had 67 Covid cases with P.3 variants.

The DOH, earlier, said the P.3 variant belongs to the B.1.128 lineage (which was first reported by Japan in a routine screening conducted on four travelers from Brazil) and contains the mutations: E484K, N501Y, P681H and LGV 141-143.

Loreche said a total of 637 samples were so far sent by DOH 7 to PGC.

Their latest send out which are still awaiting results include 225 samples taken between Feb. 27 to March 8, and another seven samples from returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) which were sent on March 22.

The 225 samples were taken from the community as a result of contact tracing.

Loreche explained that the possible symptoms of a Sars-CoV-2 (original strain) infected patient and those with the P.3 variant are the same.

The symptoms are fever, sore throat, cough, and difficulty in breathing, among others.

However, based on scientific data, Loreche said the variants can be more virulent and might have increased transmissibility.

“Let us remember that when our Covid vaccines were made, these were all tested against Sars-CoV-2, the original virus and did not include the variants of concern,” Loreche said in Cebuano.

“That is why we are really trying to control the transmission of cases so that our vaccination drives now will not go to waste,” she added.

As of Thursday, March 25, Central Visayas had a total of 6,021 active cases as it logged 332 new cases on the same day.

Of the new cases, 125 were recorded in Cebu City, 55 in Mandaue City, 18 in Lapu Lapu City, 101 in Cebu, 22 in Negros Oriental, five in Bohol, and two in Siquijor.

Loreche said based on the daily average of new cases for the past seven days, the daily new cases in Cebu City have stabilized as they no longer approach the usual 300 cases per day.

As of March 23, the critical care utilization rate (CCUR) of private hospitals in Cebu City was at 40.7 percent as of the 855 allocated Covid beds, only 348 were occupied.