Legazpi City ––The Department of Health Center for Health and Development (DOH-CHD) in Bicol said that the highly transmissible Covid-19 Delta variant is now detected as the most dominating mutating local variants of concern (VOC) in the region.

The DOH Biosurveillance report said that the COVID-19 Delta Variant is the leading virus in the region with 105 cases, next is Beta variant with 102 and Alpha variant with 42 cases or a total of 249 cases of local variants of concern here.

Camarines Sur has the highest cases of Delta variant with 27, followed by Masbate with 26, Albay, 16, Sorsogon, 15; Camarines Norte, 3, and Catanduanes with one. Naga City reported 16 cases of Delta variant and Legazpi City with one.

As of September 29, 27 new cases of Covid-19 Delta variant were recorded, Beta, 32 and Alpha with 7 new cases across the region or a total of 66 new local variants of concern detected.  

These numbers are based on the specimens submitted to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) and do not reflect the total number of circulating variants in the community.

Dr. Ernie Vera, DOH Bicol director said that the region’s hospital facilities are on critical level specifically the three Covid-19 referral hospitals such as the Bicol Medical Center (BMC), Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH), and the Bicol Region General Hospital and Geriatric Medical Center (BRGHGMC).

“The Bicol Medical Center’s COVID-19 and isolation wards are now under full capacity,” Vera said.

The BMC management issued a statement saying that they will no longer accommodate hemodialysis patients from outside centers until further notice due to Covid-19 surge.

“Base sa datos ng Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) ang lahat ng probinsya ng Bicol Region maliban sa Catanduanes ay nasa Alert Level 4 na ng COVID-19. Ito ay dahil sa pagkakaroon ng kaso ng mga COVID-19 variants. Nasa critical level na ang mga hospitals sa Bicol lalo na ang tatlong Covid-19 referral hospitals,” Vera said.  

(Based on the data of Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU), almost all provinces in Bicol except Catanduanes are under alert level 4 due to spiking cases of Covid-19 variants. Our hospitals are on critical level specifically the three Covid-19 referral hospitals).

Vera said that Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon are now classified at risk alert level 4, including the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco, Iriga, Naga and Masbate.

Masbate province is placed at level 3. Ligao City at 2 and Catanduanes being the only province put in level 1 due to its lowest presence of VOC.

Vera also said that DOH will earmark more beds to government hospitals from 30 percent to 50 percent and to private hospitals from 20 percent to 30 percent.

DOH will also intensify its case detection, isolation and testing. Vera said that swabbing shall now be conducted to reach at most 15 primary contacts from the actual eight close contacts and from first to third generation close contacts.

“Aside from the practice of minimum public health standards, we are also calling for the cooperation of the identified cases in the respective contacts to undergo strict quarantine to halt transmissibility of the virus,” the region’s top health official said.

The DOH officials reiterated to the public to religiously observe the minimum public health standards protocols to curtail the spread of Covid-19.

Similarly, Vera urged the public to undergo vaccinations to protect themselves from the deadly contagious COVID-19. Following the surging Covid-19 cases in Bicol region, the national government will be sending 1.6 M Covid vaccines as Delta cases surge here.

Vera said that an increase of vaccines and vaccinees is one of the strategies that the health department would implement due to the rise of variants of concerns (VOC) in the region.

Dr. Rita Mae Ang-Bon, DOH regional vaccination coordinator, said that about 1.6 million COVID vaccines are expected to arrive in Bicol in the last quarter of the year.

Ang-Bon, said that the 1.6 million Covid-19 vaccines soon to be arriving in Bicol includes Pfizer, Sinovac and Moderna. She said that the computation of allocation is based on the local government unit’s proportion of remaining unvaccinated people.”

The DOH Bicol recorded 452 new cases of Covid-19 and five deaths. The cumulative cases of Covid-19 in Bicol from March 17, 2020 to September 28, 2021 are 36,855; 24,005 recoveries and 1,096 deaths. (By: Raneza Sabina Barcebal)

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