MANILA— The Department of Health stressed the need for uniform border controls Saturday as authorities sought to keep away the more transmissible Delta coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant first detected in virus-ravaged India.
In a public press briefing, Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said this method worked in detecting 13 COVID-positive Filipino seafarers who had caught the variant.
“Ang pinakaimportante is our border control. Kailangan po pare-pareho ang ipatupad accross the regions at kung ano ang inirerekomenda natin base sa advice ng ating experts, ipatupad natin nang maayos," said Vergeire.
"Nakikita nating gumagana ang ating protocols dahil ang 13 na taong may Indian variants na na-detect sa bansa na-detect natin 'yan through protocols in the broders so sana ituloy natin itong mahigpit na border control para ma-prevent natin na it reaches our community,” Vergeire said.
(What's important is our border control. We need them uniformly inplemented across the regions and we also have to implement recommendations based on the advice of our experts. We saw this work when we detected 13 cases of the Indian variant, so we hope that we continue strict border controls to prevent it from reaching communities.)
The Delta variant increased the number of COVID-19 cases in some western countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom. Among notable observations among people who have caught the more transmissible variant are higher rates of hospitalization and prolonged confinement.
But Vergeire said there needs to be more "sufficient" evidence to establish these observations.
"Ang iba pong naoobserbahan, mas prone ang patient na maospital. Meron din pong sinasabi na mas may sakit, tumatagal ang kanilang ospital at ang kaniyang inflammatory markers ay tumataas," Vergeire said.
(Some of those observed are more prone to hospitalization. There are also others who have prolonged hospitalization and increased inflammatory markers.)
Video Courtesy of PTV
The Philippines had earlier extended a travel ban that aims to keep out the Delta COVID-19 variant first detected in India until the end of June. This covered India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.
Vergeire also called on local government units to be proactive in testing their residents for COVID-19 and strengthen their borders, as these help the DOH detect COVID-19 variants.
“Hindi naman po sa pag-aalarma - dapat cautious, dapat aware tayo na kung saka-sakali mas mabilis ang pagkalat ng impeksyon. Marami ang maoospital, at ito ay mape-prevent kung tayo ay magtutulong tulong for us to implement these preventive measures sa borders sa komunidad sa bawat pamilya,” Vergeire said.
(We’re not trying to alarm anyone or anything but we should be cautious and aware that many hospitalizations are expected. This could be prevented if we cooperate and implement these preventive measures in the community and in the family.)
With the prevalence of the variant in other countries, the DOH called on the public to comply with minimum public health standards.
“Katulad ng lagi naming sinasabi, no matter what variants, gagawin natin nang maayos ang response kung ating ipapatupad ang minimum public health standards,” Vergeire said.
(Like we have previously said, no matter what the variants, we would respond well against them if we comply with minimum public health standards.)
The Philippines tallied its most number of active cases in 6 weeks last Friday, attributed to the increase in cases in regions.
The DOH also earlier said logistical issues hampered genome sequencing in the country, which is important in detecting COVID-19 variants among confirmed cases.