BY Noel Talacay
PASAY City yesterday placed 21 more of its barangays under localized enhanced community quarantine due to a troubling surge in new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and asked the Department of Health to conduct genome sequencing in the city to determine if it is dealing with a new variant of the deadly virus.
In all, 55 barangays in the city are now under LECQ, counting the 34 placed under preventive lockdown last Friday in efforts to contain a huge surge in active cases.
Mico Llorca, the officer in charge of the Pasay City Epidemiology Diseases and Surveillance Unit, said as of yesterday, 395 new cases have been monitored in the city, with no indications of slowing down. Llorca said the lockdown has affected at least 95 households.
Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco, meanwhile, placed the City Hall and its annex office on a lockdown starting Tuesday night until Sunday after 24 employees of the city government tested positive for the deadly virus.
“There will be no transactions from the outside to safeguard both ways, safeguard for those who will go to the City Hall and to safeguard our employees who are not (COVID-19) positive,” said Tiangco.
In asking help from the DOH, Llorca said Pasay City executives “want to know if this is the new variant and want to know what else we can do to at least mitigate the transmission of the virus.”
He said the last time the city recorded a new case of the variant was February 13. He noted that the prevailing transmission of cases is estimated at 65 percent, especially among household members.
Llorca said Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano has instructed the city’s 335 contact tracers to intensity efforts to track down people who have been exposed to positive cases to stem the further spread of the virus.
Rubiano said at a ratio of one contact tracer per 1,330 people, this would not be enough to cover the city in an expeditious and orderly manner. Rubiano said the city government is seeking additional nurses and contact tracers to scour the city and intensify contact tracing efforts.
“We really need more personnel and equipment such as health kits and personal protective gears to conduct a city-wide contact tracing activity,” Rubiano said.
Tiangco said work at City Hall and its annex has been suspended, except for those preparing the payroll, those involved in the procurement of essential items needed in the fight against the virus, and some social welfare personnel.
Tiangco said they subjected all City Hall employees to swab testing earlier this week after some employees tested positive for the virus last week. He said the city currently has about 2,000 employees.
He said there may be no need to lock down the City Hall for 14 days because that only applies to communities. “Since the City Hall is not a residence, we just have to disinfect the area and finish all RT-PCR tests on the employees,” he said.
As of Tuesday, Navotas has already recorded 5,894 COVID-19 cases, 202 of them active cases, while 5,503 have recovered and 189 have died.
The DOH reported 1,557 new cases yesterday, raising the number of infections in the country to 566,420 with 22 more deaths. The total death toll is up to 12,129.
There were 392 recoveries, meaning the number of survivors is now up to 523,321.
But there remained 30,970 active cases, of which 88.5 percent are mild cases, 5.9 percent asymptomatic cases, 2.5 percent critical cases, 2.4 percent severe cases, and 0.80 percent moderate cases.
The Department of Foreign Affairs reported only one new case among overseas Filipinos and no new fatality.
In all, the number of overseas Filipinos who contracted the virus now stands at 14,872, with 9,366 having recovered. The death toll remained at 1,015.
From 70 new cases on Tuesday, the city of Manila registered 47 cases yesterday, bringing the total number of active cases to 435. There were 33 new recoveries and no new death. – With Gerard Naval, Victor Reyes and Ashzel Hachero