“It is unfair and reckless.”
This was the strong reaction of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to an April 6, 2021 report by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) that there are now over 500 cases of Covid-19 variants of concern detected nationwide and 104 of these cases are of the “Central Visayas variant.”
“Una sa tanan, I would caution those that have taken it upon themselves to call this variant of concern as a Central Visayas variant unless they really believe that Central Visayas or Cebu for that matter is already another country … I hope that’s a mistake … It is unfair and reckless,” she said.
The governor made the remark on April 7, 2021 at the sidelines of the send-off ceremony for 66 frontliners, composed of doctors, nurses and medical technologists from Regions 7 and 8, who will help augment the workforce in the hospitals of the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus, which are experiencing a surge of Covid-19 cases.
In its April 6 report, the PGC stated that of the more than 500 cases of Covid-19 variants of concern, 237 cases are of the UK variant (B.1.1.7), 163 are of the South Africa variant, 104 are of the Central Visayas variant and one case is of the Brazil variant (P.1).
Agreeing with Garcia, the Department of Health (DOH)-7 chief pathologist and spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche also said naming the variant of concern, P.3 variant as “Central Visayas variant” was “unfair” considering that the other variants are named after the countries where they were detected. Thus, there’s a UK variant, a South Africa variant and a Brazil variant, she added.
“So here we are, we have a P.3 variant. Why rename it as Central Visayas variant? Are we a separate place from the entire Philippines? So, it should not be like that,” Loreche said.
Garcia said renaming P.3 as Central Visayas variant is a mistake that needs to be rectified. The governor added that Region 7, particularly Cebu, has even been shown unity with the rest of the country by sending its first batch of 50 frontliners to help NCR Plus in their fight against Covid-19.
“Gani karong buntaga gipakita nato nga we believe we are part of the Philippines niining atong pakigsandurot sa atong kaigsuonan by helping our brother and sisters in NCR Plus by sending over 100 help personnel. So, we are part of this whole country,” the governor said.
The frontliners from Central Visayas are from the DOH-7 and Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).
Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) said his office supports the call of the governor and the DOH-7 to rectify the naming of the variant as Central Visayas variant.
“Yes, definitely. In fact, I am going to write an official letter as well. In fact, they have to thank us nga sige tag test, nakit-an na nato. Wala man na diri nag mutate, naabot diri,” he said.
Loreche said having a variant named after a specific region or area will have a negative impact on that place’s economy as it may result in a travel ban on that area.
Areas with variants are concern have cases, which are believed to be uncontrolled, she added. But this is not the case in Central Visayas, Loreche said.
“Our cases are well-managed and controlled, that’s one,” she added.
Garcia emphasized that as far as the economy of Cebu Province is concerned, the direction is to keep moving forward as Cebuanos continue to work hard to revive their lost livelihood while living with the reality of Covid-19.
“I think you have already seen that lives are a little better because the livelihoods have returned. Ug maningkamot gyud ta gihapon while maintaining the minimum health protocols. And while we continue to enjoin all Cebuanos to take care of themselves,” the governor said. (Mylen P. Manto)