UK-South African variants detected in Ilocos Norte

*TF Salun-at bares one death from Laoag City out of six cases in Ilocos Norte, it traces 300 contacts of affected patients

By Blessing Angel V. Agliam

The Task Force Salun-at has conducted a more aggressive contact tracing in the province following the shocking report that six cases of the COVID-19 UK-variant and South African-variant were detected in Ilocos Norte on April 18, 2021.

Initial results showed that in Laoag City, three new variant cases were discovered, while Solsona, Paoay, and San Nicolas towns have one case of variant each.

Of the affected patients, the Health Task Force said that five had recovered, but sad to say, one from Laoag succumbed to the virus.

To date, it reported that the province’s Contact Tracing Team had already identified and tested 300 primary and secondary contacts of the aforesaid patients.

“We are doing some more contact tracing by following the DOH (Department of Health) guidelines on how to deal with the new variants. We are currently finding the third generation contacts of the 6 cases so that these individuals will be subjected to swab testing and isolation,” Dr. Norman Rabago, provincial health consultant, said.

While the UK variant and the South African variant are seven times more transmissible than the non-variant, there is no evidence that these mutant strains are linked to worse disease outcomes, health experts said.

Meanwhile, Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc pushed for a “localized and targeted” lockdown as increased quarantine classification in the whole province may hurt the communities and the economy.

“Certainly, we considered a heightened quarantine level. However, after studying our cases, it seems that the vast majority of the new cases are still within the lockdown areas. In Metro Manila and even in the whole world, wide-scale lockdown is not recommended because it is not completely effective in stopping the transmission of the virus. There are also negative consequences in the community,” he said.

To speed up the province’s contact tracing, Fire Major Roxanne Parado, head of the provincial emergency operations center for COVID-19 contact tracing, urged patients and possible contacts to submit themselves for swab testing and completely fill up the Case Investigation Form honestly.

“Hindi po sinasabi ng mga index cases natin na may travel history sila. Kaya noong nag-back tracing or retracing kami, doon lang nila (new variant cases) binanggit na member of the family ang may travel history. Napaka-challenging talaga kasi wala tayong ibang pagtatanungan as of the contacts or travel history kung hindi rin lang naman ang mga index cases,” Major Parado explained.

Governor Manotoc reiterated the importance of following safety protocols, saying “I hope we don’t get tired of all the safety measures that we have been practicing for so long. We have made it this far fairly well at sana ituloy lang natin.”— (Blessing Angel V. Agliam, PGIN-CMO)