Zamboanga City saw cases of the more transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 increasing to 19 over the weekend, prompting an epidemiologist to call on the government to speed up its vaccination rollout in the city.
Officials confirmed on Monday, September 20, that the Philippine Genome Center detected a dozen new Delta variant infections in the city. The Center released the result on Saturday, September 18, but it was only confirmed by local officials on Monday.
The fresh data, showing a 36.8% increase, brought to 19 the number of Delta variant infections detected in Zamboanga City since August.
Zamboanga city health officer Dr. Dulce Miravite said the new Delta variant infections were detected from among 21 specimens taken from COVID-19-infected people in the city on August 24.
The carriers have long been certified recovered but the results of the genome analyses prompted health authorities in Zamboanga to bring them back to isolation facilities for observation.
Dr. Norvie Jailani, an epidemiologist at the government-owned Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC), called on the Department of Health (DOH) and the local government to speed up the vaccination rollout and bring Zamboanga to herd immunity status as fast as possible.
“The rise is expected. Whatever the variant is, that’s the natural progression of any pandemic until we live with it normally. Again, I want to reiterate that this pandemic was declared because of its transmissibility, and this will have a big impact on our poor health care system. We should focus more on vaccination,” said Jailani.
Dr. Miravite said the increase in the number of Delta variant cases in the city should make Zamboangueños take seriously the health protocols set by the government like avoiding closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, close-contact, and close-range conversations.
Zamboanga City registered the second-highest, single-day new cases of COVID-19 in the Zamboanga Peninsula region on Saturday. The city logged 108 new cases that day, next to Zamboanga del Norte’s 144 cases, data from the DOH showed.
The city also accounted for 936 of the Zamboanga Peninsula’s 6,208 cases as of Saturday. The province of Zamboanga del Sur logged 3,267 active COVID-19 cases, while Zamboanga del Norte registered 1,093 on the same day.
Zamboanga City, however, registered the highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in the region, at 657, since 2020. Zamboanga del Sur had the second highest at 277; Zamboanga del Norte logged 228; Zamboanga Sibugay had 134; and Isabela City saw 24 since last year, DOH’s data showed. – Rappler.com
Frencie Carreon is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship