CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)–“Kailangan natin dito (Here we need) faster testing, faster tracing, faster isolation and of course vaccination.”
In the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team visit to northern Mindanao, July 19, Department of Health (DOH) Sec. Francisco Duque III said while the Local Government Units (LGUs) of Cagayan de Oro and Gingoog are doing good with the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-
Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR+) strategy, there is now a need to be aggressive on COVID-19 response, especially with the existence of the Delta variant.
Duque stressed that the LGUs, under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) from July 16-31, must do the early detection by ensuring that there is an active case finding being done by the city or municipal health officer or the epidemiology surveillance unit officer together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“You do your RT-PCR [reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction] testing being still your gold standard. We do not encourage you to use antigen test for the simple reason that you cannot do genomic sequencing when you do antigen testing, it’s still RT-PCR,” the secretary said.
After the case finding, LGUs are urged to mobilize their surveillance mechanisms for influenza-like illness as well as their hospital surveillance system for Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) to monitor possible transmission of COVID-19 particularly the Delta variant.
Contact tracing must also be intensified with the 1:15 standard for an adequate ratio. The contact tracer to population must be 1:800.
Duque urged the regional directors of national line agencies to guide the LGUs on the standard ratios to ensure effective contact tracing.
“If you can resort to digital contact tracing, if you have a mature connectivity and technology, and if you complement this with your manual contact tracing, I see no reason why you will not be able to cut the chain of transmission,” he added.
Doing so, LGUs will have the opportunity to crush the clustering of cases in various communities where COVID-19 infection has been reported.
Stepped up isolation plus vax
Beefing up measures in isolation means having a standard time interval between the case detection and isolation. Being able to do such within 4.5- 5 days, Duque said the LGUs can have a better control and containment of the COVID-19 spikes.
“With the real threat of the Delta variant you can really have a super exponential increase in your cases and we don’t want that to happen to Region 10, to CDO and the neighboring localities,” he said.
Thus, aggressive isolation can prevent those who were infected to go out and spread the virus.
As an addition to PDITR, Duque said the vaccination has improved the country’s capacity and capability to deal with the scourge of COVID-19.
With this, he encouraged the LGUs to really exercise political will to stick to the priority groups of A1, A2 and A3.
“Even if you (LGUs) have decided to expand this to include A4, you can still do a sub-prioritization for A4, which means those aged 40-59 years of age within the economic frontliners will need to be prioritized in the scheme of prioritization framework,” Duque said.
As of July 17, there are 33,744 confirmed cases in Region 10. On the average daily attack rate (ADAR), Camiguin with 20.13% attack rate and Cagayan de Oro City (8.31%) are named to be at high risk on COVID-19 infection. The region has also recorded 49.08% hospital health care utilization rate. (RTP/PIA-10)