DOH-Bicol urges stricter border control vs. Delta variant

The Department of Health regional office in Bicol. (Photo courtesy of PNA.GOV.PH)

LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol has urged local government units (LGU) in the region to implement tighter border control measures to prevent the entry and further spread of the Covid-19 virus, especially the highly  transmissible Delta variant.

Dr. Ferchito Avelino, DOH assistant regional director, told media “the most effective way to control the spread of the Delta variant is to have stricter health control measures in all borders from the provinces, towns, cities down to the villages”.

Avelino said they have recommended the reactivation of the Bicol Pandemic Task Force’s resolution urging LGUs to tighten their checkpoints against the possible entry of people who tested positive for Covid-19.

He also urged local executives to direct their barangay officials to closely monitor the entry of non-residents and step up their contact tracing system in their respective communities.

Avelino has likewise urged politicians who have been extending assistance to villagers not to hold big gatherings as these can become “super spreader” events.

Data gathered by the DOH Bicol Covid tracker show that from May to July, there has been an uptick in cases recorded in the region indicating the transmission of the Alpha and Beta variants. The data show a total of 33 individuals were infected with these variants in the region.

Recently, two of the 11 Covid-positive crew members of the MV Clyde and Claudia (barge) that is now anchored off the shores of  Sto. Domingo, Albay, tested positive for the Delta variant.

Avelino said the DOH has recommended placing the crew under a longer quarantine. Carrying over 8,000 metric tons of coal from Butuan, the vessel had previously gone to Indonesia, where cases of the Delta variant had been reported.

He said after their 14-day standard quarantine, the crewmen will have to further undergo another six days of isolation, after which they would be subjected to another round of swab tests.

Dr. Avelino, however, said there is no Delta variant case yet in Bicol and the community would remain safe from the highly contagious variant for “as long as they (crew members) are kept inside the vessel and don’t go offshore or jump ship.”

Records show that as of July 31, there were 2,923 active Covid-19 cases in Bicol. The total number of cases since March last year stands at 21,190, of which number, 17,387 have recovered while 799 have died.