The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday night, July 22, confirmed the local transmission of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant in the Philippines.
In a statement sent to reporters, the DOH said that, based on the investigation conducted by local experts, "clusters of Delta variant cases were seen to be linked to other local cases, therefore, exhibiting local transmission."
The development comes after the country detected 12 new local cases of the highly transmissible variant on Thursday. In its earlier press release, the DOH said that, while it could not confirm if there was already local transmission of the Delta variant, it was already implementing "enhanced response" in areas where cases were detected on the premise that "there may be ongoing local transmission already."
"Upon detection of local cases with the Delta variant, the DOH explained that the government has initiated enhanced COVID-19 response in areas where Delta variant cases were detected through the implementation of the four-door strategy," the agency said in a statement.
Doors 1 and 2 involve strengthening border controls. Door 3 involves strengthening the implementation of the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR), while Door 4 involves ensuring that the country's healthcare capacity is "ready for a possible surge."
"The country has been implementing travel bans and stringent border control measures to delay the entry of the variant, giving the country a headstart to prepare its capacity to manage potential surges," the DOH said.
As the highly-transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant sweeps through Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Thailand, the Philippines is doubling its preparations in case another surge hits the country.
In an earlier interview, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that, while the country had "sufficient" oxygen supply for now, the government was in talks with manufacturers so it could buy more tanks.
Aside from this, hospitals had been asked to increase their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients.
While COVID-19 daily cases in the Philippines have plateaued at around 5,000 to 6,000, this is still higher than the average daily cases before the cased surged last April.
That surge, which was driven by more infectious variants and the easing of mobility restrictions, crippled the Philippine healthcare system.
Following the detection of local cases of the Delta variant, the DOH advised the public to avoid "unnecessary travels and gatherings."
"[The] DOH urges LGUs to shorten the duration of case detection to isolation and immediately isolate symptomatic patients, and ramp up their vaccination and prioritize the senior citizens and people with underlying conditions," the health department said.
The Philippines now has 47 confirmed cases of the Delta variant. – Rappler.com