UNSEEN ENEMY: More than half of COVID-19 cases in WV are asymptomatic

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

Almost 60 percent of the 92 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in Western Visayas are asymptomatic or have no signs and symptoms of the infection, according to the Department of Health in Western Visayas -Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD 6).

Dr. May Ann Soliva-Sta. Lucia, Health Promotion Cluster head of DOH-CHD, said 52 of the 92 cases (56.52 percent) are asymptomatic.

Dr. Jessie Glenn Alonsabe, regional epidemiologist of DOH-CHD 6, said the asymptomatic cases are mostly close contacts of confirmed cases and repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

“Usually ang mga asymptomatic are close contacts and repatriates. Ang mga close contacts ma-detect lang ini sila through contact tracing, that is the only way we can detect close contacts who are mostly asymptomatic,” he said in a virtual press briefing on Friday.

Asymptomatic cases have become a concern amid the pandemic because they look well but could spread the virus.

Meanwhile, 25 of the total cases, or 27.17 percent, are considered severe acute respiratory illnesses (SARI) while 15 cases equivalent to 16.30 percent are classified as influenza-like illnesses (ILI).

Sta. Lucia said the health department has adapted the SARI and ILI protocol introduced by DOH Central Visayas Director Jaime Bernadas in the reporting of the confirmed cases in the region.

“This is with reference to the scheme introduced by Director Bernadas and the subject of the meeting with the officials of the Central DOH, and local chief executives. Based on our reporting, with the categorization of asymptomatic, ILI, and SARI, we could see that region 6 is using this to a good extent because our reporting system is in place,” she said.

Moreover, 36 patients in the region have recovered from COVID-19 or 39.13 percent of the total cases.

The region recorded two new additional COVID-19 recoveries on Friday involving a 44-year-old male from Altavas, Aklan (WV Patient No.21); and a 65-year-old female from Bacolod City (WV Patient No. 62).

Based on the categorization of the health department on the confirmed cases in Western Visayas, 26 (28.26%) are in facility quarantine; 14 (15.22%) are admitted to health facilities; 6 (6.52%) are under home quarantine and 10 patients (10.87%) have expired.

Repatriated OFWs who were infected with COVID-19 totaled to 23.

Iloilo province recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases at 18 followed by Iloilo City (15), Antique (14); Bacolod City (9); Aklan (6); Capiz (5); and Negros Occidental (2), according to DOH-CHD 6.

The health department reminded the public to observe basic precautionary measures such as handwashing, social distancing, and respiratory etiquette to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

“The public must never forget these precautionary measures. This COVID-19 will not vanish soon but it will be with us for a much longer time than we expect, so we really need to be vigilant and conscious of the precautionary measures that we have been advocating to the public,” Sta. Lucia said.