DOH-11 denies presence of Gamma variant in DavOr

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Health in Region 11 (DOH-11) has denied reports that a more virulent coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variant has already reached the province of Davao Oriental.

In a letter to Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang dated June 22, DOH-11 director Dr. Annabelle Yumang clarified that identified Covid variants B.1, B.1.78, and A.4 are not identified as “variants of concern because current data are insufficient to determine whether the variant will require more appropriate and specific health action”.

“The variants of concern are the following: Alpha variant with Pango lineage B.1.1.7, Beta with lineage B.1.351, Gamma with lineage P.1 also known as the Brazilian variant, and Delta with lineage B.1.617.2. While variant Theta with lineage P.3 is identified as a variant of interest,” Yumang said in the letter.

This came after the Mati City Information Office in Davao Oriental released a press release on June 17 informing the public about the more virulent lineage of B.1.1.28 variant of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of Covid-19, which have been identified in nine samples from Davao Oriental submitted to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) on June 10.

The Mati Incident Management Team (IMT) earlier raised concern about the result of the Philippine Genome Center’s testing on samples from Davao Oriental released on June 17.

The DOH-11 however said stories like the one released by the Mati City Information Office could cause undue panic to the public.

“So far, the public has not panicked from the story. There is however more compliance of the health protocols and some are now signing up for vaccination,” said Mati City Information officer Ben Jason Tesiorna.

Mati IMT commander Dr. Ben Hur Catbagan Jr. earlier said though the presence of the more virulent Brazilian variant has not yet been confirmed, he opined that new variants of Covid-19 could be the reason for the surge in the number of cases this month as well as an increase on the number of fatalities, which overwhelmed hospitals and health facilities.

“Mabilis ang spread (The spread is faster) and more are exhibiting severe symptoms. These are traits of new variants. The public has the right to be warned so they can protect themselves. Masks and avoidance of crowds are effective in protecting them against COVID 19 and its variants,” Catbagan said.

He added that clustering of cases in hospitals, health facilities, workplaces, and family gatherings has been observed.

“Surge Capacity Management has been activated by the City three weeks ago, starting with the expansion of surge facilities and testing capacity; supported by advocacy on strict adherence to health protocols and strengthening the vaccination campaign,” Catbagan added.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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