June 29, 2021

The IATF outlines Covid procedures as Cebu executives maintain the rules of the game

On Tuesday, the provincial administration of Cebu defended its “best practices” that have helped to limit the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), which include a variety of procedures for returning Cebuanos.

During a special session of the Provincial Board on Tuesday, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, local officials, and health officials met with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) led by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III to discuss the management of emerging infectious diseases (PB).

An expert panel assembled by the IATF and led by Dr. Edsel Salvaa, a molecular epidemiologist from the University of the Philippines, stated that the swab upon arrival method for detecting Covid-19 in arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) carries the risk of producing false-negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results.

Salvaña supported the IATF standards established via Resolution No. 114, which require an incoming OFW or ROF to undergo a 10-day quarantine at a facility and four days at home, as well as a required RT-PCR test on the seventh day after arrival.

“Can you tell me why we are doing this? We know that SARS-COV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) may incubate for up to 14 days, which is why we are taking precautions. As a result, if you get infected while traveling, it may take up to 14 days before symptoms appear,” he stated in detail.

Salvaa emphasized that the International Association of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (IATF) has no issue to the swab upon arrival policy, emphasizing that appropriate quarantine may prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Taiwan’s Covid-19 outbreak, on the other hand, was linked to the reduction of the quarantine time for pilots and flight crew from five to three days, as shown by the instance given by him.

Among those present during the special session were Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, IATF-Visayas chief implementer Melquiades Feliciano, and DOH-7 chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche.

Delta variant

Salvaa also cautioned Cebuanos about the existence in the nation of the Delta version of Covid-19, which is 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha or UK variants and has a shorter incubation time. The Delta variation is also 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha or UK variants.

As he pointed out, since the Alpha version is 60 percent more transmissible than the original variety, it indicates that (the virus’s) transmissibility has increased.

He informed the PB members and other authorities in attendance that a Delta variant-positive individual has the potential to infect up to five to eight additional people.

He said that there are now 17 active instances of this variation in the nation.

Nograles characterized the Delta variety as a “supervening event” that has the potential to disrupt not just the health of the country’s citizens, but also its economy.

Quarantine at home

Galvez also cautioned the PB members against putting OFWs and ROFs in home quarantine, claiming that social distance and other health standards are difficult to adhere to while in the home environment.

A member of the board, on the other hand, said that in Cebu, the village peace corps, medical and emergency rescue teams, barangay health workers, and barangay council members are all extremely active in monitoring individuals who are subject to home quarantine, according to the board.

A person who tests positive for Covid-19, according to Galvez, may easily be separated from the rest of the individuals in the community if he is put in a specialized institution.

Best practices should be followed.

Mr. Duque expressed gratitude to the PB for taking time to hear the experts from the IATF, while also stating that they are ready to learn from best methods in the battle against Covid-19 that have been shown to be successful in other countries, such as the Philippines.

”With all due respect to the governor and officials of the province of Cebu, the quarantine protocol that has been followed by the nation, with the exception of the province of Cebu, is fair in that the quarantine period must be for the full 14 days done in government (identified) facility and the remaining four days done at home, with testing done on the seventh day. When that test is negative, he may be officially handed over to the local government unit where he is staying, according to him.

President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his support for and ratification of the IATF protocol, which Duque emphasized.

When asked about the province’s effective battle against Covid-19, Nograles commended the authorities for their efforts, but cautioned them not to get complacent in their efforts against the virus.

Plea for reconsideration

Garcia, on the other hand, maintained her support for the procedures being followed by the provincial administration for the arrival of OFWs and ROFs at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu City.

Asked about her rigorous border control in February of last year, even before the start of the Covid-19 spikes in various parts of the nation, she said she was brought to the IATF’s notice.

Mr. Garcia said that the provincial law that implemented Executive Order No. 17 on the swab upon arrival regulation applies to Cebuanos who are returning home after spending time in another country.

“I would like to tell the excellent secretary that we now have over 2,400 beds available for isolation. “Nearly all of our towns have built sanitary isolation centers that may be recognized as quarantine facilities (for returning OFWs and ROFs),” the governor stated, adding that town mayors and village heads are prepared and have equipped their respective communities to fight Covid-19.

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