Insufficient testing seen for BARMM's zero Delta case: official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2021 12:20 PM

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MANILA—The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will have to conduct more tests to get a clear picture of its COVID-19 situation, an official admitted Friday, as the region remains the only place in the country without a case of the fast-spreading Delta variant.

"While the BARMM is the lone region that's without a case of Delta, but then again we can't be complacent because maybe the testing done in our region is not enough," Dr. Amirel Usman, director general of BARMM Ministry of Health, told Teleradyo.

The Delta variant, which now accounts for about 11 percent of all sequenced samples in the country, has yet to be detected in BARMM, the Department of Health disclosed Thursday.

As of Aug. 21, the Philippines has detected 1,273 Delta variant cases.

With its "porous" borders, BARMM is vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19, Usman noted. 

The southernmost province of Tawi-Tawi is close to Sabah, Malaysia while Lanao del Sur is near Cagayan de Oro, which already recorded Delta variant cases, he said.

"We can never be complacent in this situation. Although we are elated there's no recorded local case of Delta, we can't lower our grounds," Usman said in a mix of Filipino and English.

In its fight against pandemic, the BARMM is setting up its first pop-up laboratory in Maguindanao, which can conduct RT-PCR test. Similar laboratories will also be built in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Lanao del Sur.

BARMM is relying on testing centers from other regions to confirm COVID-19 diagnosis. It has so far recorded 12,520 coronavirus infections, the lowest tally across all regions in the country.