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DOH: 640 New Delta Variant Cases Detected In Phl; PGH Needs More Doctors

DOH: 640 New Delta Variant Cases Detected In Phl; PGH Needs More Doctors
Photo taken by The Philippine STAR’s Miguel de Guzman shows the entrance of the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.

A total of 640 new cases of the Delta variant were detected in the country, accounting for 86% of positive swab samples sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), the Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday, Sept. 13.

In a report, the DOH noted PGC also detected 28 more cases of the Beta variant, 24 new cases of the Alpha variant and five additional cases of the P.3 variant in its latest batch of whole genome sequencing.

The samples were submitted by 77 laboratories, collecting institutions and different regional epidemiology and surveillance units (RESU) nationwide.

The DOH said out of the 640 cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant, 584 were local cases, 52 were returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and four cases currently being verified if local or ROFs.

“Of the 584 local cases, the top regions indicated as addresses of the cases were the National Capital Region with 112 cases, Cagayan Valley with 52 and Calabarzon with 49,” it added.

Two cases came from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Based on the case line list, three cases are still active, 13 have died, while 624 have recovered. Case details are being validated by the regional and local health offices.

Total Delta variant cases are now pegged at 2,708.

On the other hand, 23 of the 24 Alpha variant cases were local cases and one was an ROF. One case died while 23 have been tagged as recovered.

There are now 2,448 Alpha variant cases sequenced in the country.

According to DOH, all of the 28 Beta variant cases are local cases and have recovered. This raised to 2,725 the number of Beta variant cases found.

Data showed the five new P.3 variant cases are all local cases and they have also been tagged as recovered.

The DOH said that starting Sept. 9, PGC had scaled down its COVID-19 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing services “to shift their resources on the detection of COVID-19 variants through whole genome sequencing.”

“The shift will lead to an expected increase in the sequencing capacity and detection of COVID-19 variant cases in the country in the succeeding months,” the agency added.

The DOH has strongly reminded everyone to continue to scale up the “PDITR (Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate) + vaccination strategies” as the country is seeing a surge in cases of COVID-19 driven primarily by the Delta variant.

High growth rate

Six of 24 provinces including Metro Manila with the highest number of new COVID-19 infections from Sept. 6 to Sept. 12 have registered a high infection growth rate.

OCTA Research fellow Guido David identified the provinces as Benguet with 72, Negros Occidental with 63%, South Cotabato at 54%, Quezon with 40 % and Tarlac and Bohol with 30%.

In a tweet posted on Monday, he said seven of the 24 provinces also registered moderate growth rates led by Rizal with 27%, Davao del Sur with 24%,  Batangas with 22%, Metro Manila with 18%,  Iloilo with 17%,  Zamboanga del Sur with 15%, and Nueva Ecija with 11%.

David said the rest of the 24 have slightly decreasing to low increases in COVID-19 growth rates last week compared to the period of Aug. 30 to Sept. 5.

On the actual number of new infections, data showed that Metro Manila still leads with an average of 5,903 cases per day followed by Cavite with 1,605; Laguna, 1,109; Bulacan, 888; Rizal, 854; Batangas, 750; Davao del Sur, 643; Iloilo, 555; Cagayan, 509; Pampanga, 500; Cebu, 474 and Pangasinan, 461.

These are followed by Bukidnon at 361; South Cotabatao, 311; Benguet, 307; Bataan, 284; Nueva Ecija, 252; Isabela, 251; Negros Occidental, 248; Misamis Oriental, 245; Tarlac, 234; Quezon, 233; Bohol, 214 and Zamboanga del Sur with 205.

‘There is hope‘

“There is hope,” David said Monday after the DOH reported 20,745 new COVID-19 cases for Monday.

“Reproduction number will likely decrease in the coming days, at least,” he tweeted after the numbers for the day were announced.

“Just above the lower range. Lowish Monday number plus decreasing positivity rate plus cleared backlog plus tomorrow is Tuesday plus followed by Wednesday equals there is hope,” he said.

With Monday’s count, David said the reproduction number in the country decreased to 1.27 as the median estimate for Metro Manila should be in the 5,300 to 5,400 range.

PGH needs more doctors

The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on Monday asked for more doctors as the country’s premier COVID-19 referral facility is grappling with a manpower problem.

PGH spokesman Dr. Jonas del Rosario pleaded for doctors to apply in the hospital as 11 volunteer physicians opted not to renew their contracts.

“It’s no longer hospital beds we lack but manpower. We are in a war that needs more soldiers in the field,” Del Rosario said in Filipino. “Because of this non-renewal of contracts, we feel the shortage of staff all the more.”

Del Rosario said some doctors did not renew their contracts to pursue sub-specialty trainings.

“These are general physicians who volunteered and then over the course of the year, they had other plans. That’s something we cannot contest,” he said.

The shortage of doctors compelled the hospital to ask for the services of other department personnel to assist in COVID-19 wards.

“We had to share tasks to augment the shortage of manpower,” Del Rosario said.

The PGH has exceeded its 320 COVID bed capacity.

There are 310 COVID-19 patients at the PGH, with 40 more waiting to be confined in the emergency room and 200 others waiting in the hospital wings.

Del Rosario pleaded for doctors to apply in public hospitals as more are enticed to go abroad for higher pay.

Medical frontliners deserve higher salary and should receive their allowances on time as they battle the pandemic, Del Rosario said.

“We really have to increase their salary because they are doing extra work, because they are sacrificing their lives,” he said.

The government is continuously hiring health care workers to ensure enough manpower in public hospitals, Malacañang said yesterday. – With Alexis Romero, Michael Punongbayan