MANILA - All of the Philippines' 8 active COVID-19 Delta variant carriers were not yet vaccinated from the respiratory disease prior from contracting it, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday.
In an interview on ANC, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said all the active cases, of which 4 are in Cagayan de Oro, 1 in Manila, another 1 in Misamis Oriental, and 2 Filipinos from overseas, contracted the virus prior to immunization.
"[The] 8 active individuals are unvaccinated from now," she said.
On Tuesday, the health agency announced that the 8 Filipinos turned out positive for COVID-19 after RT-PCR retesting. All are currently asymptomatic and in quarantine.
Asked about the details on why the supposedly recovered carriers had to go retesting, the health official explained that they did it for an "extra layer of protection."
Some of those who got screened for antigen testing yielded negative for the disease.
"Because of LGU protocols, they do repeat test and they had this negative antigen test... Our requirements now or protocol based on experts' recommendation is that we retest all of those who turned out positive for the whole genome sequence... so that we are, we have an extra layer of protection," according to Vergeire.
The carriers underwent testing for the disease on July 17, she said.
On Friday, the DOH first recorded 16 additional cases of the Delta variant, most of which were what they call "local cases." A carrier, meanwhile, had died.
Philippine authorities are currently keeping guard against the spread of the Delta variant, the B.1.617.2, as experts tagged the strain behind the overwhelming infections in India and Indonesia, stretching the countries' health care capacity.
While new cases have declined in India, infections in Indonesia have been repeatedly around 50,000 per day in the past week.
The number of fatalities in the Southeast Asian nation has also stayed above 1,000 for the fifth consecutive day on Tuesday.
DESPITE CLASE RECLASSIFICATION, PATIENTS 'NO LONGER INFECTIOUS'
Based on government's existing protocols, she said no retesting would be needed after a person finishes the quarantine period: "most of the time, the individuals who turns out positive [for the disease]... are no longer infectious."
This is why they had to remove repeat tests, but it is up to the local government unit to conduct antigen testing for further assessment.
"If you finish your 10 days or 14 days [quarantine] and you are no longer symptomatic, you are declared as recovered. But as I have said, these are extra layers of protections for us."
Vergeire also allayed the public's fears on the Delta variant spread, noting that health protocols are in place to prevent it.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno earlier lamented that his local government only learned there was a Delta variant carrier in the city nearly a month after the patient died.
Moreno, in a Facebook live video, implied that they could have done something if they were informed early on.
"Whenever you identify a positive case, even without the genome sequencing yet, you have to go through the protocols that we have right now. They have to be isolated immediately," she said.
"We assume that even though the whole genome sequencing results have come out after 3 weeks, they were able to completely manage this patient. This 10 days or 14 days of isolation should had been done by the local government."
The results took some 3 weeks because of the sampling process and the time frame of a local government's submission, as there were samples that were already outdated.
While her agency wants to also release timely results to help inform the public and local authorities, there are still limitations, she said.
"If we do the isolation, quarantine, testing, and all of these protocols that we have, we can be able to prevent the spread of these variants," said Vergeire.
12 FILIPINO CREW
The DOH said it is currently screening the samples of the 12 Filipino crew members of a vessel that had sailed from Indonesia.
One seafarer reportedly snuck out even if they tested positive for the virus.
"These are 5 samples we have been able to collect from these individuals and these are going to be part of our sequencing process," Vergeire explained, noting that the results could be released in 5 to 6 days.
"I guess, we need to assume that these are specific variants because they are coming from these high-risk countries."
The Delta variant contains two key mutations to the outer "spike" portion of the virus that attaches to human cells, affecting a person's immunity to the virus, experts have said.
The B.1.617.2 variant remains a variant of concern, along with 3 other variants of the virus that are seen as more dangerous than the original version because they are more transmissible, deadly or have the potential to get past some vaccine protections.
- With reports from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News; Reuters and Agence France-Presse