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COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION INEVITABLE

DOH sees Delta variant behind rise in COVID-19 cases


Health authorities believe the highly contagious Delta variant may be driving the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases recorded recently, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.

“Looking at our cases right now, it’s exponentially rising, so sa tingin po namin talaga (we really think) Delta variant is driving the rise in the number of cases,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told CNN Philippines.

Vergeire stressed, however, that other variants such as the more transmissible Alpha and Beta are also a factor in the uptick.

The Philippines has logged 1,856 Alpha cases, 2,146 Beta cases, and 216 Delta cases as of July 28. 

Vergeire said the DOH has yet to confirm community transmission of the Delta variant, which would mean that links between cases can no longer be identified.

“Our whole genome sequencing cannot provide us that evidence yet that’s why we cannot officially pronounce, although as I’ve said, we now treat this as community transmission and we are acting towards that direction,” she said.

Asked whether community transmission of the Delta variant is inevitable, Vergeire said: “I think so. That is our assumption because of the high transmissibility of this Delta variant.”

The DOH earlier said the reimposition of the strictest lockdown regulations over Metro Manila from August 6 to 20 will prevent daily new cases from swelling to 15,000

“If we are going to continue on and we will not have these kinds of restrictions, we can reach up to 500,000 active cases by the end of September,” Vergeire warned.

Despite the tightening of restrictions, however, the total number of active cases in Metro Manila is still seen to hit 30,000 by end-September

Authorities have said Metro Manila will inoculate 250,000 people daily and conduct 24/7 vaccination during the ECQ. Vergeire said this would be a “very big contribution” to protecting the healthcare system. 

“Our objective and our hope will be, because we are going to ramp up vaccination, that we will be seeing less numbers of cases that will be classified as severe and be going to the hospitals. That is our main goal, that we can still preserve our health system,” she said. — RSJ, GMA News