A health official on Saturday said the Delta variant, which was first recognized in India, is 40 to 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that was detected in the United Kingdom (UK).
Department Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said patients infected with the Delta variant are more prone to stay longer in hospitals compared to those who contracted the other variants.
“The Alpha UK variant is 60 percent more transmissible but the Delta variant is another 60 percent more transmissible. It really spreads easily,” Vergeire said during a televised public briefing.
Initial global studies showed Delta variant cases have higher inflammatory markers which mean the virus is causing severe infection.
Maria Van Kerkhove, World Health Organization (WHO) Covid-19 technical lead, in a news release on June 16, said the Delta variant now makes up 10 percent of all new cases in the United States, up from 6 percent the previous week.
The WHO said some reports have found that it also causes more severe symptoms, but more research is needed to confirm the conclusions.
“Like what the WHO said, we’re seeing this as a dominant variant in other countries. In the UK, the variants in the country now are 90 percent Delta variant that’s why they’re having the surge,” Vergeire said.
The UK Department Health reported Thursday more than 11,000 new Covid-19 cases and 19 deaths. Infection rates increased across all age groups but are highest in the 20 to 29 bracket.
Vergeire said the Delta variant should not be a cause for alarm if health protocols are applied and observed.
She again reminded local government units to implement the PDITR (Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, Reintegrate) response, minimum public health standards, and Covid-19 vaccination to prevent the Delta variant from being dominant.
She also emphasized the significance of strict border controls in preventing community transmission.
“Ang pinaka-importante ngayon is our border control. Kailangan pare-pareho ang pagpapatupad across the regions at kung anuman ang narekomenda natin base sa mga nasabi ng ating experts, ipatupad natin nang maaayos (Our border control is very important now. It’s implementation should be the same across the regions and implement the protocols we have recommended based on our experts’ advice),” she said.
Border control protocols, she added, are proven effective as seen in the early detection of the Delta variant in 13 returning overseas Filipinos.
As for the aviation industry which could be first point of contact for the Delta variant transmissions, Vergeire advised authorities to ensure their protocols on preventing infections are in place.
In New South Wales, Australia, the Delta variant was detected in a driver who drove for an airline crew.
“Our request from other industries including the aviation industry, they have to work with us. No matter how strict our borders will be if they don’t implement correct protocols, the threat of variants like this entering our country is still there,” Vergeire said.
On Friday, DOH Technical Advisory Group member Edsel Salvana reported that 13 Delta variant cases were detected in the country, all from returning Filipino travelers.
Salvana said the government’s immediate quarantine protocols for individuals entering the country helped in containing the virus. (PNA)