PH logs 8 active Delta cases after retesting

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 20) — There are still eight active COVID-19 Delta variant cases of the 35 cases detected in the country, the Department of Health revealed on Tuesday.

Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing that one active case is in Manila, four in Cagayan de Oro, one in Misamis Oriental, and two are returning overseas Filipino workers.

Vergeire initially told CNN Philippines' The Source that there were only seven active cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant. She also admitted these patients were supposed to be tagged as recovered after completing their quarantine period, but most of them failed to get a COVID-19 test after their 14th day.

"When we went back because we were able to determine that they had the Delta variant, we retested again and we found that seven among these local cases have positive results," she said.

Currently, there is no protocol to retest COVID-19 patients before releasing them from quarantine, but Vergeire said experts have recommended that those who tested positive for any COVID-19 variant must go back to quarantine so their condition can be assessed again until they get a negative test result.

According to Vergeire, most of the patients have not interacted with anyone within their local communities and are now undergoing another round of quarantine. While the rest of the cases have recovered, the government is still closely monitoring their condition. At least 47 contacts of all Delta cases have also been traced.

Vergeire clarified that the active Delta variant cases cannot be considered a local transmission just yet.

"These local cases that we have right now are kind of sporadic where they are in different areas and different timelines for getting infected," she said.

"When we look closely at these cases, lahat sila halos ang CT (cycle threshold) value nila matataas, ibig sabihin mababa na yung viral load sa katawan and therefore most likely hindi na sila ganun ka-infectious. But of course we would still like to be very sure that's why they are now in quarantine pa rin at binabantayan," she added.

[Translation: When we look closely at these cases, almost all of them have a high CT value while the viral load in their bodies are low and therefore most likely they are not that contagious anymore. But of course we would still like to be very sure that's why they are now in quarantine and are being monitored.]

The government can only declare a local transmission once a linkage has been established among the individuals who are positive with the Delta variant, the DOH spokesperson added.

So far, there are 11 locally acquired cases of the Delta variant. On Monday, one of the patients who acquired the variant locally died, bringing the total Delta variant-related fatalities in the country to three.

The DOH earlier acknowledged the possibility that there could be more undetected cases of the highly contagious Delta variant.

The government hopes to receive new machines that will boost the country's genome sequencing capacity from 750 samples to 1,500 samples per week.