INCREASING. The latest cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Western Visayas. The increase in cases was attributed to the presence of the sub-variants, particularly Omicron, the decline in the observance of the minimum public health standards, and the opening up of the economy in Level 1 areas. (Graphics courtesy of DOH WV CHD)

ILOILO CITY – The presence of the highly contagious coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variants, lax observance of the minimum health standards, and increased interaction of people due to more relaxed restrictions led to the increased risk of transmission in Western Visayas, a regional health official said on Friday.

As of July 21, 2022, the region has a total of 2,031 active cases as reported by the Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH WV CHD).

“Yesterday (July 21), we have 177 new cases for a total of 2,031 active cases. We have recorded 91 recoveries and zero deaths,” said Dr. Bea Camille Natalaray, head of the DOH WV CHD Infectious Disease Section, in an interview.

Most of the cases or 93.60 percent have mild symptoms or asymptomatic, she added.

She said the region’s daily average cases already reached 133, higher when compared with the 33 cases per day in June, and an average of eight cases per day in May.

However, the health care utilization rate remains low risk at 35.89 percent.

“The presence of our sub-variants, particularly our BA.5, which is highly contagious when compared with our original Omicron variant; our declined compliance to minimum health standards, especially on the correct and consistent use of face masks; and the opening up of economy in Level 1 areas leading to increased interaction of people, increased the risk of transmission,” she said.

During the virtual media forum of the DOH central office on July 20, it was reported that Western Visayas has 309 BA.5 variants, seven BA.4 and two cases of BA.2.12.1 cases.

The medical officer said that they always emphasize the need to get inoculated as protection against the highly-transmissible variants and booster doses for the eligible population if they already have received their primary series.

“After their primary series, their immunity against Covid-19 also wanes so it is important that they boost their immune system again,” she added.

The second booster is already available for senior citizens, adults with comorbidities, and health workers.

“We have enough vaccines; we have Pfizer vaccines for our booster. We have remaining allocation from our national vaccine operations center,” Natalaray said.

As of July 18 data, 5,177, 528 or 79.9 percent of the 6,480,257 target population are fully vaccinated, 170, 136 or 2.63 are partially vaccinated, 778,158 or 12.01 percent have their first booster and 28, 528 or .44 percent have their second booster. (PNA)