Additional Beta variant case detected in Aklan

KALIBO, Aklan–Aklan recorded a new case of the Beta variant, a COVID-19 variant of concern, in the latest batch of specimens sequenced by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC).

The new case puts the number of Beta (B.1.351) variant cases in Aklan at four. There is no information yet if the reported new case of Beta variant is active or recovered.

Of the 23 Beta variant cases in the region, 16 were from the province of Iloilo, two each from Capiz province and the highly-urbanized city of Iloilo, and one each from Antique and Negros Occidental provinces.

UP-PGC also reported four Alpha cases in Iloilo City, two in Iloilo province, and one each in Negros Occidental and Capiz. The same variant (B.1.1.7) was also detected in Antique province in seven of its specimens.

Meanwhile, four Theta variant cases (P.3) were detected in Guimaras and Iloilo provinces, and the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo.

This variant, first identified in the Philippines, was classified by World Health Organization as “alert for further monitoring” as it was found not to pose a public health risk, unlike the other variants.

The Department of Health (DOH-6) has urged the local government units to strengthen active case profiling and backtracking of the local cases identified with the variants of concern. Intensified contact tracing of first to the third generation of contacts should also be done to determine the source of infections.

Last month, at least 31 swab samples from 12 municipalities in Aklan were sent to the UP-PGC through the Department of Health regional office for genome sequencing.

WILL MECQ WORK?

It remains to be seen for the province if longer, stricter quarantine restrictions will control the spread of the coronavirus.

From March to December last year, there were only 451 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province; seven months later, and as of August 2, total cases have breached the 8,000-mark.

The average daily attack rate (ADAR) per 100,000 population of Aklan is the highest in the whole region in the most recent two weeks (July 15 to July 29) at 21.29 percent compared to the previous two weeks (July 2 to July 15) at 18.24 percent.

Aklan also registered a positive two-week growth rate of 17 percent, indicating an increase in infections from July 16 to July 29.

Even the positivity rate—the ratio of confirmed infections to total specimens tested—is higher here: the province has conducted a total of 2,706 tests with 1,342 confirmed cases or a 50 percent positivity rate from July 25 to August 2.

The province’s 1.16 percent fatality rate, however, is lower than the national case fatality rate of 1.76 percent: out of 8,172 cases as of July 25, 95 resulted in death.

Kalibo, Malay, Ibajay, Nabas, Numancia, Makato, and Malinao are the areas where coronavirus rates are spiking.

To stem the transmission of the virus, Aklan basically upgraded its quarantine level from general community quarantine with heightened restrictions to a modified enhanced community quarantine from August 1 to August 15. Non-essential businesses, including barbershops, salons, gyms, and bars, are closed while residents are discouraged from gathering and encouraged to stay at home as much as possible.

Churches, while allowed to open, may only do so at 30 percent capacity. (Boy Ryan Zabal/iNEWS-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)

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