CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The National Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 has placed the city under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) effective July 16 until July 31 to avert spur of COVID-19 infection.
According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the city has been placed under ECQ because it recorded five cases of the Delta variant while Gingoog City registered one infection.
Both cities are under Northern Mindanao region.
The Delta variant is highly transmissible according to studies which caused the second surge in India in April and May and now in Indonesia which sent the health care systems of the two countries in distress. Indonesia recorded over 54,000 cases in one day on July 16.
Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in previous news conference that Delta variant could be 60 percent more transmissible as it could infect eight persons as compared to first known Alpha variant that could infect four to five persons.
The IATF sent its staff to Cagayan de Oro on July 17 to conduct aggressive surveillance and contract tracing.
Dr. Teodulfo Joselito Retuya, the city epidemiologist, said local health officials detected the Delta variant on June 28 and that all the infected persons had already recovered from COVID-19.
In a statement, the Department of Health in Northern Mindanao (DOH-10) said the six cases detected in the region are part of a large cluster of cases with onset dates between June 23 to 28.
Dr. Gina Itchon, medical officer at the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), said it’s possible that the Delta variant was transmitted through travelers who entered the city, although she did not rule out the possibility that the virus has mutated.
“[The delta variant] could be due to natural mutations. Mutation will happen no matter what we do,” Itchon said.
NMMC is a regional public tertiary hospital that caters to COVID-19 in the regions that has five provinces.
Unfazed but prepping
The city government amid the threat of the latest variant is pushing through its inoculation rollout. During the city hall’s daily press briefing, Mayor Oscar Moreno on July 16 said the vaccination will continue as the ECQ justifies the stepping up of the inoculation as he continues to appeal to residents to overcome fear.
“All the more we will intensify our vaccination. Don’t panic. If we panic, that’s what the virus wants, he said.
The mayor said the city needs to intensify its efforts, adding, “we need to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.”
The worst-case scenario, the mayor said, is for the city to experience a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“This Delta can be very deadly, but we must not panic. We need to be control of ourselves, so we can also control the virus. It is very important to remain vigilant,” Moreno said.
Moreno noted that Cagayan de Oro has been faring better than Davao City in terms of the critical care utilization rate, but the Delta variant infection in the region has put Cagayan de Oro under ECQ.
The Health agency has assured it is working closely with Centers of Health Development (CHD) and local government units (LGUs) to ensure all cases have been and will be appropriately traced and managed.
“The Bureau of Quarantine and the Department of Transportation are on high alert to implement strict border control measures,” the Health agency added.