The Department of Health (DOH) of Nueva Ecija confirmed on Friday, August 27, 14 new cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant in the province, raising to 16 the total infections of this variety here.
“These cases were reported by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) and relayed to us by the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) on August 23,” said Dr. Edwin Santiago, DOH Nueva Ecija spokesperson.
He said Talavera town had the most number of Delta cases with 8. The towns of Quezon and Jaen had two each, while Cabanatuan City and the Science City of Muñoz each had one case.
Governor Aurelio Umali on August 2 announced the two previous cases – one each from the towns of Talavera and San Leonardo – and both were confined in isolation centers.
Santiago said the new cases were no longer active. He added 15 have recovered and one died.
The provincial disease surveillance unit has also started contact-tracing to see if the Delta cases were linked to new COVID-19 infections.
In Cabanatuan, the City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (CESU) head Edwin Manabat confirmed to Rappler that the city had one Delta case.
Manabat said the patient had already recovered and was now in isolation while waiting for the result of the repeat RT-PCR test. Nine close contacts of the patient have already been cleared, he added.
“We are also closely monitoring a close contact of a COVID-19 Delta variant positive, endorsed to us by the Municipality of Jaen,” Manabat told Rappler in Filipino.
Rappler reached out to the municipal office of Jaen multiple times but neither the mayor’s office nor the municipal health office replied.
In an online briefing on Tuesday, August 24, Talavera Mayor Nerivi Santos Martinez reminded residents to strictly follow health protocols, including a liquor ban, suspension of face-to-face religious activities, and mass gatherings.
“Kaya iyan po ay nakakatakot, nakaka-alarma at kahit saan po kayong lugar magpunta at makabasa ng report, talagang kakaiba po ‘yung mga bilang, ang dadami po ng mga kaso even in our nearby towns and provinces,” she said.
(That’s causing fear and alarm, and reports from our nearby towns and provinces also say there is a rise in cases.)
The Department of Health announced on Thursday, August 26, that Nueva Ecija and seven other areas in Central Luzon were under Alert Level 4 for COVID-19. These are Angeles City, Bataan, Bulacan, Olongapo City, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales. All have cases of COVID-19 Delta variant.
Screengrab from DOH/Facebook (August 26, 2021)
National data as of August 23 showed that 69 cases of COVID-19 Delta variant have been detected in Central Luzon.
Paul Soriano is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.