Monday, May 3, 2021

U.K. Covid variant found in Zambo Norte, Sur

‘Surge in Covid-19 cases in Zamboanga probably from new strains’

THE SURGE in Covid-19 cases in Zamboanga City may have been caused by new strains or variants of the novel coronavirus that are now plaguing the National Capital Region and other provinces in the country.

The Department of Health said it has confirmed the presence of Covid-19 U.K. variant in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur from 2 overseas Filipino workers who arrived home from Kuwait and Abu Dhabi in February. 

From a little over 3o active Covid-19 cases in March, Zamboanga City now has more than 1,300 new cases and the number continues to climb despite strict quarantine measures and health protocols imposed by the local Covid-19 task force headed by Mayor Beng Climaco.

The sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in the country was largely blamed on the new variants of SARS-CoV-2 or Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019 and quickly spread across the globe.

Zambo Peninsula

But Zamboanga Health Officer Dr. Dulce Amor Miravite claims the city remains free from the new Covid-19 variants, but the spike in active cases is so alarming that there are no more available Covid-9 wards in hospitals. 

Among the early Covid-19 variants are those from the United Kingdom or U.K. and South Africa, but according to the medical website Mayo Clinic, viruses constantly change through mutation.

Currently, several variants of the SARS-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19 are creating concern because they contain mutations in the spike-like S protein that the virus uses to bind to and infect cells.

Covid-19 Variants

A variant identified in the U.K. (B.1.1.7). This Covid-19 variant appears to spread more easily and might have an increased risk of death.

A variant identified in South Africa (B.1.351). This variant appears to spread more easily. It also has a moderate impact on the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody medications and moderately reduces the effectiveness of antibodies generated by a previous Covid-19 infection or Covid-19 vaccine.

A variant identified in Japan/Brazil (P.1). This variant has a moderate impact on the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody medications. It also reduces the effectiveness of antibodies generated by a previous Covid-19 infection or a Covid-19 vaccine.

A variant identified in the U.S. (California) (B.1.427). This variant appears to spread more easily. It also has a significant impact on the effectiveness of some treatments and moderately reduces the effectiveness of antibodies generated by a previous Covid-19 infection or Covid-19 vaccine.

A variant identified in the U.S. (California) (B.1.429). This variant appears to spread more easily. It also has a significant impact on the effectiveness of some treatments and moderately reduces the effectiveness of antibodies generated by a previous Covid-19 infection or Covid-19 vaccine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also monitoring two variants identified in New York — B.1.526 and B.1.525 — and another variant identified in Brazil — P.2.

But a new Covid-19 variant, officially designated as Lineage P.3, was also detected in the Philippines in March this year as reported by the Philippine Genome Center. 

IATF-MEID 

The increase in Covid-19 cases in Zamboanga City was reported after the national government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) relaxed its travel protocols across the country and allowed people to go from one place to another without medical certificates and RT-PCR tests. 

And this was aggravated by the continued violations of the health protocols and complacency of residents despite Climaco’s repeated appeals to locals to observe the guidelines.

“This is the reason why the City Government is intensifying enforcement of preventive measures such as wearing of face masks and face shields by residents, practicing hand hygiene and physical distancing, to include restricting mobility of people and even temporary closure of beaches and resorts to curb transmission of Covid-19,” she said.  

“Otherwise, if the (Covid-19) cases become unmanageable then the national government might declare ECQ and we do not want to be under ECQ because of its effects on the livelihood of people,” she added, referring to the strictest Enhanced Community Quarantine status. 

Private and government hospitals have put up additional wards to address the spike in the number of patients with the deadly respiratory disease. The Zamboanga City Medical Center has already converted other wards to accommodate Covid-19 patients with nurses working at least six or 12 hours per shift. 

Climaco stressed that in confronting the pandemic, the government has to balance medical science, facts and opportunity for people to be healed. 

Stricter Measures 

Based on the recommendation of the City Health Officer Dr. Dulce Amor Miravite and City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Elmeir Apolinario, the local government has asked the IATF-MEID to revert Zamboanga to General Community Quarantine status from the current Modified General Community Quarantine to restrict the movement of people and control the spread of the disease.  

“The request for GCQ is based on the recommendation of Doctor Miravite and CDRRMO. Hace kita claro, we do not want any form of ECQ because if it is implemented, the people will really suffer. That is why I am asking everyone, this possibility is a likelihood just like in Metro Manila and I don’t think it is something we welcome in the city,” Climaco said, stressing that people must fully cooperate and support the government in the fight against Covid-19 to prevent further increase in the number of infections here. 

The IATF-MEID and President Rodrigo Duterte will have to decide whether to place Zamboanga and other areas where there are a high number of Covid-19 cases based on their assessment on the Covid-19 situation.  

Climaco said the local government is making available the needed resources to assist people who are affected by temporary granular lockdowns in the barangays should Covid-19 cases spread rapidly.  

She also issued Executive Order 651-2021 that mandates all inbound passengers, whether APOR (Authorized Persons Outside Residence) or private individuals, regardless of reason or purpose of entry, including transit travellers to present negative RT-PCR test result within 5 days from date of specimen collection, whether swab test or Saliva RT-PCR test, together with their valid identification cards to entry into Zamboanga City. 

“These are temporary measures designed to curb the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in order to promote the health and safety of the general welfare of the citizens,” the mayor said, adding, the executive order took effect April 22 and shall remain in force until lifted, amended or superseded. (Zamboanga Post, Mindanao Examiner)



No comments: