‘No UK variant in Cebu’ despite report of DOH

·3 min read

TALISAY City Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas urged the public not to panic over news that a 54-year-old returning overseas Filipino (ROF) from Dubai, who is a resident of Talisay City, tested positive for the UK variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The ROF was immediately monitored by health officials upon his arrival in Cebu and was only released from the hospital in Cebu City when he was already clinically recovered.

“Everyone is doing their best to ensure that we all remain safe,” Gullas said in a statement issued Friday night, Feb. 5, 2021.

“Our local health officials are also vigilant in ensuring that the new UK variant does not affect us,” he said.

The Department of Health (DOH), on Friday, announced that two of the eight new cases of B.1.1.6 variant in the country are from Talisay City and then northern town of Liloan.

Gullas said he talked with DOH 7 and was told that the ROF, who arrived in the country in January, did not set foot on Talisay City until he was deemed recovered by doctors of a public hospital in Cebu City.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said they’re still looking into the other patient who is said to be from Liloan.

“This case is interesting as the swabbing was conducted in Sta. Ana in Manila on Jan. 17, 2021 and we have no details as to whereabouts now,” she told members of the media Friday night.

Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco, in a statement on Saturday, Feb. 6, said that upon verification by their Covid-19 Operations Center, they have no record of a 35-year-old male from the town who tested positive for Covid-19 or its new variant in January and February.

She said “the premature release to the public of unverified information with zero coordination with our LGU (local government unit) is a cause for great concern as it sows unnecessary panic, and calls to question proper case management notwithstanding that our LGU has exhausted all efforts in the past year to protect our people from this pandemic and to not cause further anxiety and stress by releasing information only when the same has been thoroughly investigated and verified.”

In a follow-up interview on Saturday, Feb. 6, Loreche said they were also surprised when they received a call from their central office Friday night regarding the news.

She said they have requested the help of the Bureau of Quarantine and airlines to track the patient’s whereabouts.

The mayor assured that they will provide assistance in any investigation to be conducted and that they await proper coordination from the DOH “as there has been none to date.”

She called on her constituents to continue to be vigilant and continue to follow health and safety protocols.

Meanwhile, Loreche cautioned the public from assuming that the recent rise in Covid-19 cases in the metro is due to the ROF from Talisay City.

“It is most unfair to pinpoint it to him. He was placed in isolation and discharged only when recovered. Thus, the bio-surveillance we are conducting since last week to determine the presence of the UK variant or the possibility of a local variant in the region,” she said.

Loreche said they have sent 70 samples to the Philippine Genome Center for genomic sequencing on Saturday.

She had said there was a need to conduct a bio-surveillance for new variants because of the rapid rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Cebu.

“Different individuals are getting infected. Children are testing positive. Many people in one area are getting infected. There are those who had recovered from the disease who are testing positive again,” she said in Cebuano.

She said they collected samples from patients from the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu and from Cebu Province from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2. (WBS)