(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Friday, 22 October 2021) At 3:00 AM today, the Low Pressure Area (LPA) was estimated based on all available data at 525 km East of Guiuan, Eastern Samar (11.5°N, 130.5°E) embedded along the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) affecting Palawan, Visayas, and Mindanao. Caraga Region will have Cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms due to ITCZ / Localized Thunderstorms. Possible flash floods or landslides during severe thunderstorms. Light to Moderate winds coming Northeast to Northwest will prevail with Slight to Moderate seas / (0.6 to 2.5 meters).



Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Undisclosed travel history linked to rise in COVID variants in R13

By Doreen Marielle N. Rosales

BUTUAN CITY -- The sudden spike of cases of COVID-19 variants of concerns (VOCs) in Caraga Region may be linked with inbound travelers purposely concealing their travel history, the Department of Health (DOH)-Caraga said.


In an interview on Monday, September 27, Dr. Glee Valenzona, Medical Officer IV at the DOH-Center for Health and Development in the region said the sudden detection of VOC cases may be due to travelers refusing to disclose their travel history, especially those coming from COVID-19 ‘hotspots’ in the country such as the National Capital Region (NCR).

Caraga Region remained the only region in the country that did not have any cases of the VOCs until September 6, 2021, when health authorities detected its first Delta case which was a 26-year-old female residing in Barobo, Surigao del Sur with a travel history in NCR.

Eleven days later, cases have gone up to 39, having detected other VOCs such as the Alpha, Beta, and P.3 variants as well as local transmission of all four variants in the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, and the city of Butuan.

Nearly two weeks later, on September 27, cases have nearly quadrupled, with the DOH-Caraga having recorded 149 cases. Delta cases are now at 64; Beta cases at 45; P.3 cases at 21; and Alpha cases at 19. Six deaths have also been recorded.

Local health authorities are now urging the public to be more compliant with health protocols especially with the travel restrictions imposed in a certain area.

“It also takes the cooperation of all Caraganons and other travelers, to be honest, to really give details and health information for us also and for those assigned in the boundaries [so] that we can extract [the] right information so that we can screen them properly and we can identify and detect suspected cases earlier,” Dr. Valenzona said.

While the presence of VOCs causes greater fear, Dr. Valenzona said this is an opportunity for locals to be more aware of the local health situation, the nature of the virus and its variants, and the pandemic as a whole.

This, coupled with cooperation and compliance with health protocols, can improve the public’s response especially as the serious threat of COVID-19 lingers as seen in the increase of cases recorded in the region daily.

For now, authorities and the public alike have to count on an even stricter implementation and adherence to the Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment, and Reintegration (PDITR) strategies along with the vaccination.

“With the Delta in the region, studies show this is more transmissible so the more that we would need to strictly and aggressively follow health protocols and [these] be implemented in the community,” the local health official said.

“[There] should be an early detection as well as early isolation of those identified cases and contacts of the confirmed cases and also treatment.”

Intensified vaccination rollout

Of the 149 cases of COVID VOCs in the region, 44 are unvaccinated. The presence of the VOCs and its local transmission puts the public at an even greater risk thus prompting local health authorities to intensify the vaccination rollout as well as its call for the public to get vaccinated.

“With the available vaccines right now, it is really our call that everyone in Caraga Region should participate and be vaccinated when they are already [part] of the eligible population,” the medical officer said.

“Studies show that the vaccines can prevent symptoms from becoming severe, which outweighs the side effects and it can protect [us] even from Delta and other variants,” she added, addressing vaccine hesitancy that prevails among locals.

“With the availability of the vaccines, we can be vaccinated and be part of the solution,” Dr. Valenzona said.

As of September 26, around 409,461 individuals in the region have now been fully vaccinated, of which 55,281 are frontline healthcare workers (A1); 100,374 are senior citizens (A2); 188,192 are persons with co-morbidities (A4); 59,981 are frontline personnel in essential sectors (A4); and 5,663 are from the indigent population (A5). (DMNR/PIA-Caraga)