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DOH sees Delta variant community transmission in NCR, Calabarzon

The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday confirmed community transmission of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant in Metro Manila and Calabarzon.

Citing the World Health Organization, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing that community transmission means there is a clustering of cases and there are no longer links among infected individuals.

“Currently, we have seen and observed, especially in NCR and Region 4A, na talagang mukhang community transmission na ito. Nakita natin na wala nang link ang mga kaso sa bawat isa. We are seeing clustering of cases in these two big regions,” she said.

(Currently, we have seen and observed, especially in NCR and Region 4A, that this really looks like community transmission. We can no longer see links among cases. We are seeing clustering of cases in these two big regions.)

“Definitely I can tell all of you, Region 4A and NCR, nandiyan na po [it is there], we can observe that already although we need further evidence but there is community transmission already in these areas,” she added.

In a statement issued later in the day, the DOH clarified that it has identified community transmission of the Delta variant only in Metro Manila and Calabarzon, not in the entire country.

“Analysis of the latest sequencing results for the determination of community transmission is ongoing for other regions,” it said.

Over the weekend, Philippine Genome Center chief Dr. Cynthia Saloma said samples collected for genome sequencing in June already pointed to community transmission of the Delta variant nationwide. 

Vergeire agreed but underscored that the country does not have the capacity to confirm community transmission yet.

“The assumption is there. Lahat ng action natin ay [All our actions are] geared towards that level of community transmission already but as to confirming it, kailangan kasi namin ng ebidensya [we need evidence] because this is a classification. Actually, this is a technical thing,” she said.

The Philippines has so far detected 807 Delta variant cases

The 807 Delta variant cases comprise 8.31% of the 9,706 sequenced samples as of August 15, according to DOH Epidemiology Bureau director Dr. Alethea De Guzman.

“From June until July, we've seen the proportion of samples testing positive for Delta increased from just 6% to 42%,” De Guzman said in an online Go Negosyo forum on Monday.

The Delta variant has been detected in nearly all regions of the Philippines, except Caraga.

Metro Manila and Laguna have been placed under the second-strictest lockdown classification until August 31 to curb the spread of the Delta variant. —with Virgil Lopez/KBK, GMA News