Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, Department of Health (DOH)-Region 7 chief pathologist. (Screengrab from VVOC video)

CEBU CITY – Aggressive inoculation of eligible population and compliance with the minimum health standards protect the Central Visayas region from surges driven by coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variants and sub-variants, a health official said on Tuesday.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, Department of Health (DOH)-Region 7 chief pathologist, said in a presser at the Visayas Vaccination Operations Center (VVOC) that local government units’ (LGU) efforts to inoculate their constituents have paid back.

She noted a slowdown in Covid-19 cases despite the reported presence of "Delmicron", a combination of the Covid-19 variants Delta and Omicron, as well as the BA.2 or the sub-variant of Omicron known as "Stealth Omicron".

As of Monday, Central Visayas recorded a total of 896 active cases with more than half coming from this capital city. The neighboring cities of Mandaue of Lapu-Lapu reported 33 and 25 active cases, respectively.

Of the three provinces, Cebu recorded 283 active cases while Negros Oriental and Bohol have 43 and 14, respectively. Siquijor listed only eight active cases.

“We have battled this pandemic for quite some time. But because our vaccination is making headway, we expect more LGUs will be allowed to transition to Alert Level 1,” Loreche said.

This city and the province of Siquijor were already placed under Alert Level 1, the lowest restriction status against Covid-19.

Loreche said Mandaue could be added to the list by next week considering its high vaccination rate.

She also commended the cities of Talisay, the municipality of Minglanilla and the island town of Cordova for improving their numbers of inoculated residents, especially the senior citizens.

Based on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) rules, a locality can be allowed to transition to a lower alert level if it shows a downtrend in Covid-19 caseload, its hospital bed vacancy rate is high, has vaccinated 70 percent of its population, and reached 80 percent of total coverage for the senior citizens.

The VVOC data showed that the nine localities in Metro Cebu have a combined vaccination accomplishment rate of 71 percent for their senior citizens.

However, Loreche called on the city of Naga and the towns of Consolacion and Liloan to ramp up the inoculation of their elderly population after reporting below 70 percent accomplishment rates.

Meanwhile, the health official said the DOH-7 and Cebu Provincial Health Office will establish vaccination sites at the North Bus Terminal in Mandaue City and South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Avenue here to make Covid-19 vaccines accessible to travelers. (PNA)