Caraga sees COVID-19 uptrend; DOH confirms detection of 39 cases of 4 variants

The number of newly documented COVID-19 infections in northeastern Mindanao continued to surge in the past week as health officials expressed concerns about the detection of 39 cases of four different COVID-19 variants in the region.

Agusan del Sur accounted for 43.5% of the newly confirmed COVID-19 infections in Caraga, at 334 cases, on Tuesday, September 21, data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed.

The entire region logged 767 cases that day, four days after the DOH-Center for Health Development confirmed the detection of 32 COVID-19 Delta cases and seven other cases, made up of 3 other variants of concern, throughout Caraga.

DOH regional director Cesar Cassion confirmed that the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center also detected one P.3, three Alpha, and three Beta case variants in the Caraga samples sent to it for genome sequencing analysis in August.

The health department said the more transmissible COVID-19 variants were found in Butuan City, Cabadbaran City, Las Nieves, Carmen, Kitcharao, and Nasipit in Agusan del Norte; Rosario, San Francisco and Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur; Carmen, Lanuza, Carrascal, and Madrid, Bislig and Tandag cities in Surigao del Sur; and Tubod in Surigao del Norte.

DOH data showed an uptrend in Caraga’s COVID-19 cases in the last seven days. The region counted 554 new cases last Wednesday, September 15, and 767 on Tuesday, September 21, the highest in seven days.

In the regional center of Caraga, Butuan Mayor Ronnie Vicente Lagnada said the city’s 76 barangays would remain under the modified enhanced community quarantine classification from September 23 to September 30 based on the resolution of Caraga’s COVID-19 interagency task force due to the increasing number of infections in the locality.

Dr. Cassion said the DOH’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit was closely coordinating with the local health authorities to continuously monitor the COVID-19 situation in Caraga.

He said frontline health workers have also stepped up the identification and tracking of the close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 carriers so they could be quarantined.

“With the detection of more Delta and other variants of concern in the region, we will not falter in reminding everyone to take active participation in helping us end this pandemic,” Cassion said.

He said the increasing COVID-19 variants should prompt people to observe health protocols set by the government, boost their immune systems, and get vaccinated when they can.

“These measures are still proven to effectively cut the transmission of COVID-19 and all its variants,” Cassion said. –