Vigilance urged against new COVID variant

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With the confirmed presence of the new coronavirus variant in the country, the Negros Occidental Provincial Health Office and the Bacolod City Emergency Operation Center have strengthened their vigilance and tightened health protocols against COVID-19.

Dr. Ernell Tumimbang, provincial health officer, said Thursday (Jan. 9) that he will remind again the city and municipal health officers to conduct information campaign in the barangays regarding the new variant’s rapid transmission.

Infographic from Department of Health Facebook page

Maintaining health protocols and minimum health standards is still the best way to avoid getting infected, he added.

The 14-day quarantine period required upon arrival of returning overseas Filipinos or overseas Filipino workers from countries with cases of new variant is enough prevention from the point of entry in Manila, but Tumimbang suggested to local government units in Negros Occidental to implement additional quarantine days in their facilities.

This is the same protocol being implemented by Bacolod City since the last week of December when the World Health Organization announced the discovery of the new variant.

City Administrator Em Ang, executive director and deputy for administration and operations of the Emergency Operations Center Task Force, said that the executive order of Mayor Evelio Leonardia clearly states that an arriving ROF or OFW from countries with positive cases of the new variant will have an extended strict and monitored home quarantine.

All barangay heads have been informed about the new variant and the EOC called on them not to loosen their watch over new faces in their communities, Ang said.

On Wednesday night, the Department of Health confirmed that it has detected the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant (UK variant) from a Filipino who arrived from the UAE last Jan. 7.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to make a decision on whether to include the UAE to the list of 33 nations already covered by travel restrictions.

The national government had earlier imposed the temporary travel ban on the entry of foreign travelers from China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg, and Oman.

United Kingdom, the United States, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, and Austria are also covered by the temporary travel ban.

The ban on these nations will be in effect until Jan. 15, 2021 subject to the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. – MML