MANILA—The Department of Health wants to expand genome sequencing work in areas that are high-risk for COVID-19, as the country tallied its first local cases of the transmissible Delta variant.
"We are also looking at doing genome sequencing in areas with surges para makita ang kabuuan ang picture (So we can look at the full picture)," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a public press briefing Saturday.
A "purposive sampling" will be done to check which samples will be sequenced, amid the slow pace of domestic genome-sequencing.
Vergeire said this was a common practice in other countries.
"Ganito rin ang ginagawa sa ibang bansa. At ang kinukuha natin is 'yung may high rate of suspicion. Kailangan lang natin ma-expand para makita ang full picture ng Delta variant," Vergeire said.
(This is done in other countries, and we take in those with a high rate of suspicion. We just have to expand to see the full picture of the Delta variant.)
The Philippines recently tallied 11 local cases of the Delta variant, as part of the 16 new Delta variant cases logged in the Philippines.
The DOH will also "intensify" contact-tracing in the coming days to see if there is already a local Delta transmission.
"Sa ngayon we’re doing intensive contact tracing among these individuals. So dito sa pamamaraan na 'to makikita natin kung may link sa bawat kaso at kung saan nag-o-originate kung saan ang kasong mga ito. So we will be informing the country in the coming days," Vergeire said.
(We're currently doing intensive contact tracing among these individuals. In this manner, we'll see if the cases are linked and where their origins are. The country will be notified in the coming days.)
The DOH reiterated it was already important for local government units to expand its "4-door policy," such as intensifying the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) policies and expanding healthcare system capacities as authorities expect a surge.