DOH Bicol reports local transmission of Alpha, Beta COVID-19 variants

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The Department of Health Bicol Center for Health Development has confirmed the local transmission of the Alpha and Beta variants of COVID-19 in the region.

Based on the results of genomic sequencing by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), a total of 11 individuals were positive of the Alpha variant, while 22 were positive of the Beta variant.

The department said the Alpha variant, also known as the B.1.1.7 variant, was first detected in the United Kingdom in September 2020 while the Beta variant or the B.1.351 was first detected in South Africa in May 2020.

The DOh warned that both variants are more transmissible, and pose more risk of hospitalization.

“All provinces of the Bicol Region except for Catanduanes have reported cases of COVID-19 variants. For the alpha variant, Camarines Sur has recorded 8 cases, while Naga City, Masbate and Sorsogon have one (1) each. For the Beta variant, Camarines Sur has 8 cases, Albay has 5, Naga City has 4, Legazpi City with 3 cases, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon have one (1) each,” said the DOH.

These specimens were sent to PGC last April 14 and April 28, 2021 and the results were received by the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) on July 21, 2021.

“COVID-19 variants are detected through genomic sequencing. Only the Philippine Genome Center in Metro Manila has genomic sequencing in the country hence specimens in Bicol Region are sent to PGC for sequencing,” the DOH explained.

Meanwhile, the DOH Bicol stressed the importance of identifying all contacts of cases through robust contact tracing at the Local Government Unit (LGU) level.

Coupled with contact tracing and case management, the DOH said the Minimum Public Health Standards remains as the best protection against all types of variants and mutations of COVID-19.

“All Bicolanos must properly wear facemask and face shield, observe social distancing, practice hand washing and sanitation, and avoid crowded and enclosed spaces. Attendance to all forms of social gatherings must be kept to essential if not be avoided,” said the DOH.

“All stakeholders, local government units, government agencies, and private sectors should strictly implement the MPHS in their localities, areas, offices, and establishments. The fight against COVID-19 remains as a whole-of-system, whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach hence DOH Bicol appeals to the continuous cooperation from everyone,” it added.