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The Department of Health’s Western Visayas office based in Iloilo City went into lockdown on Tuesday, August 24, following the confirmation of two Delta variant cases among its staff, Mayor Jerry Treñas announced on the same day.
In his daily update, Treñas also said that Iloilo City breached 100 new cases of COVID-19 on August 23, city, for the first time in months. Three deaths were also reported.
While the DOH only reported 11 new Delta cases in Iloilo City, Treñas said “it is clear that the Delta variant and all the other variants are affecting the rate of infection.”
Aside from the Delta cases, DOH Western Visayas said Iloilo City also has three cases of the Alpha variant, four of the Beta variant, and seven Theta variant cases.
So far, the DOH has acknowledged local transmission of the more infectious Delta variant only in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Rizal.
Western Visayas executives are convinced they have been experiencing the same for some time.
“The hospitals are getting full and the deaths are growing,” the mayor said as he announced “granular lockdowns” in areas with confirmed Delta variant cases. Re-swabbing will be conducted among patients and their close contacts, he added.
Aklan has 21 new Delta cases, the highest in the region. On August 4, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores had already expressed fears of local transmission of the variant as the first cases found in Antique were around a porous, busy border district. He also pointed out that entire families were getting sick in his province.
Bacolod City also showed an uptick in new cases over the last two days. From the 30s and 40s in the last week, the city recorded 69 cases on August 22 and 85 on August 23. DOH Western Visayas however, listed only 83 new cases for the city on August 23.
New figures released on the evening of August 24 showed only 18 new cases.
Bacolod City Administrator Em Ang, executive director of the Emergency Operations Center, also said on August 24 that the city has two new Delta cases: a six-month-old boy from Barangay Bata, and a 45-year-old male from Barangay Villamonte.
DOH Western Visayas said the city only has one Delta case but added that it is verifying a case of a returning overseas Filipino worker with a Bacolod address.
Regional health officials said on August 23 that Bacolod has one case each of the Alpha and Beta variants. It has 10 cases of the Theta variant which was first detected in the Philippines” in March this year.
City officials in Bacolod said the first four confirmed Delta cases were all local transmission, as the patients had no travel history or direct contact with a traveler.
While the Philippine Genome Center released the results weeks after the four were found to be COVID-19 positive, the second round of swab tests conducted on them and their close contacts raised concern of the Delta variant having a longer period of transmissibility.
Two children of a pregnant woman confirmed infected with the Delta variant also tested positive for the virus, along with a male neighbor, Ang said on August 17. The woman, one of the first two Delta cases in the city, was swabbed on July 19 and released from a 14-day quarantine.
Ang said the other infected persons stemming from the Delta cases could not be sent for testing because their CT value is above the Department of Health threshold for genome sequencing confirmation.
Urging city residents to get vaccinated and to remain at home unless they have to report for work, Treñas warned that Iloilo City hospitals were again at risk “of being overwhelmed with patients with an increasing number of unvaccinated patients.”
“Of the 265 deaths in the metro for this year, 244 are unvaccinated and the vast majority of people being hospitalized with COVID and dying from the disease haven’t been fully vaccinated,” the mayor said.
“Vaccinated people who get infected generally have either no symptoms or very mild symptoms as opposed to going on and developing severe illnesses for unvaccinated patients,” he added.
Even before the August 24 report of 106 new cases, Treñas already ordered tighter border controls to prevent the entry of travelers outside of essential and authorized workers from other provinces in Panay island. He also lowered curfew back to 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., after pushing its start to 9 pm.
“Our cases have leveled off in the 80s, where it was in the 70s before, so we had to revise controls. We want everyone to be in their houses at the earliest possible time,” the mayor said.
Iloilo province, which continues to struggle with more than 300 new cases daily, reported 16 Delta cases, three each of the Alpha and Beta variants, and six of the Theta variant,
Even before the release of the new report on variants, local executives were already adding curbs to mobility in Iloilo.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr ordered a lockdown of barangays that still have rising COVID-19 cases.
On August 19, he signed an executive order limiting travel to and from zones with clusters of cases to authorized working residents (APORs) who have quarantine passed from their barangays.
The pass requirement includes those traveling for medical and humanitarian reasons. Those leaving to get vaccine jabs also need to present a quarantine pass or ther vaccination card. – Rappler.com