CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Amid reports of six confirmed local cases of the coronavirus Delta variant in Northern Mindanao, these cases can be managed as long as local government units aggressively implement the Prevent-Isolate-Detect-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) plus vaccination strategy.

This was the assessment made by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 officials on Monday, July 19, during a meeting with the local chief executives of the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Gingoog.

Health Secretary and IATF Chair Francisco Duque III noted the areas of concern that LGUs need to focus on in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 cases.

“Sa granular lockdown ninyo, (you need) aggressive contact tracing and (to) isolate (cases) immediately— that’s the way you cut the chain of transmission,” Duque said.

The cities of CDO and Gingoog City were placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from July 16 to 31, after the former registered five cases of the delta variant, while the latter recorded one.

“Yung Gingoog City and CDO’s response have been quite effective. And I am confident that they will be able to contain the potential surge of COVID cases, not only due to the Delta variant, but also the Alpha and Beta variants in circulation,” Duque added.

This view was echoed by Interior Secretary and NTF vice-chair Eduardo Año who said that areas of concern due to rising COVID-19 cases will be prioritized in the national government’s vaccine deployment.

“Ang pinagkaiba with the Delta variant, alam nating mas mabilis ang transmission dito, so dapat magfo-focus tayo ng resources dito. The national government will make sure na mayroong CODE (Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic) teams na pupunta sa mga areas, and at the same time, sa rollout ng ating vaccines, kasama sa iko-consider na mas maraming vaccine ang i-eemploy dito,” Año said.

Strategic response

Cagayan de Oro City currently leads Northern Mindanao in terms of active COVID-19 cases, with 1,078 as of July 17.

Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., vaccine czar and NTF chief implementer, identified key result areas in the LGUs’ COVID-19 response.

“Ang pinaka-main objective mo, ibaba ng 5% ang active cases, and then later on ang new cases dapat single digit na lang siya,” Galvez said.

The vaccine czar also cautioned against widespread lockdowns, saying it will do more harm than good.

“Ang ginagawa natin granular (lockdown). At most, city lang. As much as possible, i-minimize natin ‘yung economic risk,” he said.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno said they will strengthen their granular lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

“We had been doing granular containment since last year, and wala namang problema. Under the rules kailangan lang i-concur ng RIATF (Regional Inter-Agency Task Force),” Moreno said.

Gingoog City Mayor Erick Cañosa, for his part, inquired if they can calibrate the implementation of ECQ in their locality with the current threat posed by the Delta variant.

“This is with regard the granular lockdown, we also implemented that sa Gingoog but I would just like to ask Secretary Galvez, if we can make some adjustments po, like for example sa Gingoog City po kasi, yung entire city po yung ginawa. Is it okay?” Cañosa said.

Galvez said the LGUs are allowed to “tweak” the policies as long it will not be detrimental to the local economy and still containing the virus.

Galvez also said that Region 10 will be among the priority areas for vaccine deployment in the months of July, August and September.

“Dapat focused and expanded ang ating vaccination. The focus (is) on the most vulnerable, at (doon) sa burden of death and burden of hospitalization,” Galvez said.

“This is a race against time and we wanted na while the Delta variant is mutating, we are now vaccinating the vulnerable,” he added.

Earlier in the day, the Department of Health Region 10 received a shipment of 26,660 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Laguindingan Airport, in Misamis Oriental.

Other officials present during the meeting were: Defense Secretary and NTF Chair Delfin Lorenzana; Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno; Gingoog City Mayor Erick Cañosa; Department of Health Northern Mindanao Regional Director, Dr. Jose Llacuna, Jr; Dr. Joselito Retuya, epidemiologist, Cagayan de Oro City, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Assistant Secretary Wilben Mayor; and Government of the Philippines Joint Normalization Committee co-chair Ariel Hernandez. ###