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DOH eyes stricter border control amid Delta threat

By Mar Arguelles

The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol has called on local government units (LGU) in the region to implement tighter border control measures to prevent the entry and spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) especially the more transmissible Delta variant.

In an interview, Dr. Ferchito Avelino, DOH assistant regional director, said “the best and (most) effective way to prevent the spread of the Delta variant is to have stricter health control measures in all borders from the provinces, towns, cities down to the villages”.

He said the DOH has recommended the renewal of the Bicol Pandemic Task Force's resolution reminding local executives to tighten their checkpoints against the possible entry of people who tested positive for Covid-19.

Avelino also urged local executives to direct their barangay officials to closely monitor the entry of non-residents and step up their contact tracing system in their respective communities.

He also asked politicians who have been extending assistance to villagers not to hold big gatherings as these can become “super spreader” events.

The DOH Covid tracker indicated that from May to July, an uptick in cases has been recorded in Bicol due to transmission of the Alpha and Beta variants. A total of 33 individuals were infected with these variants in the region.

Recently, two of the 11 Covid-19 positive crew members of the MV Clyde and Claudia (barge) that is currently anchored off the waters of Sto. Domingo, Albay, tested positive for the Delta variant.

Avelino said the DOH has recommended placing the crew under a longer quarantine.

The vessel carrying over 8,000 metric tons of coal came from Butuan but had previously gone to Indonesia, where cases of the Delta variant had been reported.

Avelino said after the 14-day standard quarantine, the crew members will have to undergo another six days of isolation, after which they would be subjected to another round of swab tests.

He assured the public that there is no Delta case yet in Bicol and the community would remain safe from the highly contagious variant for “as long as they (crew members) are kept inside the vessel and don’t go offshore or jump ship.”

As of July 31, there are 2,923 active Covid-19 cases in Bicol. The total number of cases since March last year is 21,190.

There have been 17,387 recoveries and 799 recorded deaths in the region.

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