Cagayan de Oro health authorities have traced four of the five Delta variant cases in the city to a birthday celebration.
City epidemiologist Dr. Teodulfo Joselito Retuya Jr. said the index case is a 39-year-old man who celebrated his birthday with his family and other relatives in their rented apartment in Barangay Carmen on June 18.
The man worked in neighboring Manolo Fortich town in Bukidnon. Health authorities are still determining how he contracted COVID-19 as of posting.
Retuya said the man was already experiencing symptoms but ignored them as he wanted to celebrate his birthday. The man stayed with his family for two more days before he returned to Manolo Fortich town for work.
Retuya said the man initially submitted to a rapid antigen test and was found to be reactive.
While in isolation, he took a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test and tested positive for COVID-19 but his samples were not among those subjected to random examinations in a genome sequencing laboratory.
Retuya said the man infected five of his six relatives who joined the birthday celebration, and that four of them were found with the Delta variant: his 35-year-old wife, 14-year-old son, 62-year-old mother-in-law, and the latter’s 61-year-old sister. Only his 12-year-old daughter tested negative.
The man's five-year-old son also contracted COVID-19 but his sample was not subjected to genome sequencing analysis. (READ: Data suggest there could be more than 5 Delta variant cases in Cagayan de Oro)
Retuya said the man's relatives experiened symptoms in the next few days, including "coughing, loss of smell, colds, fever, sore throat."
He said the man's wife, who works in Cagayan de Oro, and other symptomatic family members all stayed at home. They were taken to an isolation facility on June 26, and were swabbed on June 28.
They all tested positive for COVID-19, except for the 12-year-old girl.
Subsequent random testing by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) at the University of the Philippines in Manila showed that four of the family members were positive for the Delta variant.
Retuya said out that he could speculate on the man's and his son's cases because their samples did not undergo genome sequencing analyses.
The PGC normally does random tests to detect various COVID-19 variants because of the more rigorous process involved, and it has limited capacity. Mayor Oscar Moreno earlier said that the city government has no genome sequencing analysis capability, and only the Department of Health (DOH) decides who gets tested.
Retuya said the man's family members had been “certified recovered” from COVID-19 and were supposed to go home, but then the Delta variant test results came.
With the new findings, Retuya said, the family members were moved to a DOH isolation facility and swabbed again. They still turned out positive for the virus.
He said they still have to show the results to infectious disease specialists who would decide if they had already recovered.
The city's fifth Delta variant case, a married 32-year-old male hospital worker who was fully vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine in April, first noticed mild symptoms on June 26.
Retuya said he was swabbed on June 28, then transferred from home quarantine to an isolation facility after he tested positive for COVID-19.
The health worker was "certified recovered" on July 9 and sent home to complete his quarantine there. But when he was found to have contracted the Delta variant, he was moved to a DOH isolation facility on July 16.
Retuya said the health worker was swabbed on July 17 and tested negative for the virus.
His four-year-old son and one-month-old daughter tested positive for COVID-19, but were asymptomatic. His 35-year-old wife and six-year-old son tested negative.
His family members’ samples did not undergo genome sequencing tests.
Meanwhile, a commotion took place at one of the vaccination centers in a shopping mall in the city on Wednesday, July 21, as people flocked thereto get the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Emiliano Galban Jr., DOH spokesperson for Northern Mindanao, said some 26,000 vials of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, equivalent to 10 doses each, were delivered to Cagayan de Oro and Gingoog cities on Tuesday, July 20.
Mayor Oscar Moreno appealed for calm and emphasized that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses were intended for the elderly. – Rappler.com