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Philippines reports 12 more local Delta variant cases

The Philippines has detected 12 more local cases of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant, bringing the total to 47, according to the Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday.

The DOH said three cases were from Metro Manila, six were from Region 3, two were from Calabarzon, and one was from Region 5.

“All cases have been tagged as recovered but their outcomes are being validated by our regional and local health offices,” it said in a statement.

The DOH stressed that “enhanced response” is needed in areas where new Delta variant cases were detected as well as in other areas seeing an uptick in infections “with the premise that there may be ongoing local transmission already.”

The agency also told local authorities to increase the number of samples sent for genome sequencing, especially for areas with a spike or clustering of cases.

Out of the 47 Delta cases, 36 have recovered, three have died, and eight remain active. 

Alpha, Beta cases

Meanwhile, 187 Alpha variant cases, 142 Beta variant cases, and 12 P.3 variant cases were also detected in the latest genome sequencing run.

The country now has a total of 1,668 Alpha cases, 1,827 Beta cases, and 233 P.3 cases, while the number of Gamma infections remained at two.

The DOH said 179 of the new Alpha cases were local and eight were still under verification, while 54 patients have died and 133 others have recovered.

Among the 142 new Beta cases, 134 were local and eight were still under verification, while 21 cases have died and the remaining 121 have recovered.

“The DOH reminds the public that as the government continually strengthens our healthcare capacity, the minimum public health standards and getting vaccinated when it is our turn are still the best defense against any variant,” the agency said.

Uptick in cases

On Wednesday, the DOH registered 6,560 additional cases of the coronavirus disease, raising the country's total tally to 1,524,449.

Researchers, however, are not yet pinning the recent increase in the number of daily COVID-19 cases to the Delta variant, which according to OCTA Research could reach as much as 10,000 in the coming weeks.

In its latest monitoring report, OCTA Research said the COVID-19 reproduction number in the National Capital Region has increased to 1.15, indicating sustained transmission.

The Philippine College of Physicians said hospitals have also started to see a fresh uptick in the number of patients going to COVID-19 emergency rooms. 

The threat of the Delta has resulted in calls for the national government to revisit some of its policies on restrictions, like the one allowing children aged 5 to 17 years to go outside their homes.

There are also calls to reimpose the NCR Plus bubble involving Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal.

Malacañang has said that some restrictions will likely be reimposed to stem the spread of the Delta variant.  

Stricter quarantine status sought

To prevent an "impending" case surge,  independent research team OCTA Research is calling for a stricter quarantine status in NCR, and urged national and local government officials to swiftly ramp up testing and contact tracing efforts.

"We cannot underestimate the COVID-19 uptick because of the possibility that it MAY be driven by Delta. At the very least the IATF must contemplate a stricter quarantine status or impose more restrictions in the NCR," OCTA said in a statement.

IATF refers to the  Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the government's policy-making body in addressing the pandemic.

OCTA warned that the current enforcement of general community quarantine (GCQ) is not enough to stop another surge of the virus, especially in the NCR.

"The current GCQ status without restrictions will not be enough. The key to dealing with this impending surge in cases in the NCR requires timely and appropriate interventions that would include lockdowns augmented by expanded testing and tracing. Let us not wait for the numbers to explode before we act," it said.  —KBK, GMA News