THE DEPARTMENT of Health XI has denied reports that a more virulent variant of COVID-19 has already reached the province of Davao Oriental.
In a letter to Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang dated June 22, DOH XI regional director Annabelle Yumang clarified that identified COVID variants B.1, B.1.78, and A.4 are not identified as “variants of concern because current data are insufficient to determine whether the variant will require more appropriate and specific health action”.
In her letter, Yumang identified the variants of concern as the following:
- Alpha variant with Pango lineage B.1.1.7
- Beta with lineage B.1.351
- Gamma with lineage P.1 also known as the Brazilian variant
- Delta with lineage B.1.617.2
While variant Theta with lineage P.3 is identified as variant of interest.
The Mati Incident Management Team earlier raised concern about the result of the Philippine Genome Center’s testing on Davao Oriental samples released on June 17, 2021.
A total of 991 samples were submitted by three COVID testing facilities to the PGC for genome sequencing. The result showed that samples from Davao Oriental have nine B.1.1.28. One has the B.1 variant, another one has B.1.78, and one more has the A.4 variant while 69 are still pending.
The P.1 variant or the Brazilian variant is a branch of the B.1.128 lineage.
Mati IMT commander Dr. Ben Hur Catbagan Jr earlier said that though the presence of the more virulent Brazilian variant has not yet been confirmed, he suspects that new variants of COVID-19 could be the reason why there is a surge in the number of cases this month, as well as an increase on the number of fatalities resulting to surge in hospitals and health facilities.
“Mabilis ang spread and more are exhibiting severe symptoms. These are traits of new variants. Public has the right to be warned so they can protect themselves. Masks and avoidance of crowds are effective in protecting them against COVID 19 and its variants,” Dr. Catbagan earlier said.
Clustering in hospitals, health facilities, workplaces, and family gatherings have been observed.
The Surge Capacity Management has been activated by the Mati three weeks ago, starting with the expansion of surge facilities and testing capacity, and supported by advocacy on strict adherence to health protocols and strengthening the vaccination campaign.
The DOH XI, however, said that stories like the one released by the Mati City Information Office could cause undue panic to the public.
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