As COVID-19 cases rise, DOH maintains no community transmission yet of Delta

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
As COVID-19 cases rise, DOH maintains no community transmission yet of Delta
Marikina residents are seen inside the public market of the city on July 28, 2021. The Department of Health reports an increase in new COVID-19 infections following the detection of the local transmission of its Delta variant.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health maintained Saturday that the spread of the more contagious Delta variant has not yet reached the level of community transmission in the country.

“We need enough evidence to pronounce that there is community transmission,” DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire told state TV.

Vergeire said that the Philippines has only seen local transmission of the Delta variant as people infected with this can still be linked back to each other.

“We will be able to declare that there is community transmission if we are able to provide evidence already that we cannot link these individuals to each other anymore and we see that this variant has spread extensively,” she added partly in Filipino.

The World Health Organization says there is community transmission in a country, area or territory if there are large numbers of cases not linkable to transmission chains, large numbers of cases from sentinel lab surveillance or multiple unrelated clusters in several areas of the country, area or territory.

Health authorities in the Philippines have so far detected 216 cases of the Delta variant, dozens of which are local cases from various regions in the country.

The country also logged its highest number of coronavirus cases in two months on Friday, with the DOH reporting 8,562 new infections, pushing the national total to 1,580,824.

Vergeire said they cannot directly conclude that the Delta variant is driving this rise in cases, but said that it is now “part of the factors that we are now considering when it comes to increasing the number of cases.”

Fears over a possibly explosive surge driven by the Delta variant has prompted calls from experts, business leaders and mayors to impose a lockdown in Metro Manila, which were finally heeded by the government on Friday, when it announced that it will place the capital region under enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20.

READ: What to expect as Metro Manila goes into lockdown

But even under lockdown, Vergeire said that based on forecasts of government experts cases could still increase between 18,000 and 30,000.

“This lockdown is going to help us prepare the system, but it is not going to control the spread,” she said.

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