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COVID-19 | City to send specimens to RITM to check for variant




DAVAO CITY (MindaNews) – The City Government of Davao will submit specimens to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Metro Manila to perform a genomic analysis to determine the presence of the new variant of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) here, amid the spike in new cases attributed to the post-holiday surge.

Dr. Ashley Lopez, Davao City Health COVID-19 focal person, said during his program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) that National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez told the local government on Wednesday to send the samples after seeing a worrisome uptick in the daily COVID-19 cases.

Lopez said the specimens of the COVID-19-positive patients taken this month will be processed at the RITM.
“Through the genomic test, we will know whether the new COVID variant has entered the city or not. We only have one facility that can do the genomic testing to know if the strain is a variant or the ‘original ancestral’ virus,” he added.

Although he believed that the spike is due to the post-holiday surge, Lopez said local authorities could not discount the possibility while expressing concern over the entries of persons through porous backdoor channels via Cotabato City, Zamboanga City, Sarangani province, and General Santos City, skirting protocols.

Lopez said Sabah, Malaysia, Davao Region’s closest neighbor, has already reported the presence of the mutated strain of COVID-19 called A701B. He added that personnel from Public Safety and Security Command Center, Task Force Davao, and Philippine National Police have already imposed restrictions at the borders.

“They are trying all they can to regulate the entries of people to Davao City, most especially those who are not from here,” he said. Lopez said health authorities have observed the start of a post-holiday surge starting last January 7, with new cases seen at over 100 daily.

He said that they expect the surge to continue until mid-February. As of January 12, the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region reported 268 new cases, bringing the total cases to 14,276, with 2,310 active, 11,379 recoveries, and 586 deaths in the region.

Out of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, tallied 9,863 cases, with 1,345 active, 8,053 recoveries, and 465 deaths. Davao de Oro reported 698 cases, Davao del Norte with 1,864, Davao del Sur with 1,067, Davao Occidental with 164, and Davao Oriental with 619. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

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