VPAA Issues Memo on COVID Subvariant ‘Arcturus’, Cases Continue to Rise

By: Aianna Xyril Monsod
May 02, 2023

People both masked and unmasked seen walking at Divisoria, prompting authorities to rethink their strategy on infection mitigation. Photo courtesy of Business World.

The Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) released VPAA Memo No. 035 to the Letran community on Monday, May 1, 2023, amidst the rise of COVID-19 cases and detection of the coronavirus subvariant Arcturus in the Philippines.  

The Letran administration reminds the Colegio’s constituents to follow the practices of minimum public health standards, such as wearing face masks, observing respiratory etiquette, disinfecting hands regularly, upholding honesty in accomplishing the daily health symptom survey, initiating self-isolation as soon as symptoms start, informing their immediate superior via phone call, text, or email if sick or ill, informing the clinic staff via telemedicine for advice if sick or experiencing any symptom, and getting vaccinated and boosted with COVID vaccines.

New Subvariant and Precautionary Measures

“The Arcturus variant, or XBB.1.16, is a sublineage of the Omicron, which has the ability to evade immunity and is said to be more transmissible,” the Department of Health (DOH) says.

The first confirmed case of Arcturus in the Philippines was discovered in Iloilo province on April 25, 2023. It was asymptomatic and marked as recovered. The subvariant was first detected in India and has spread to 33 countries.

COVID-19 cases in the country also rose, with 3,148 infections reported in the previous week. According to infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante, the subvariant ” is one of the reasons causing the increase. 

In Metro Manila, the percentage of infections among tested individuals rose from 8.4% as of April 19 to 13.4% as of April 26, as per the private pollster OCTA Research.

These are also the reminders on wearing face masks: (a) make sure that face masks are snug fit, without leaks in any area, (b) it is advised to use N95 or KN95 masks, (c) double masking may be used as an alternative to N95 or KN95 masks; cloth mask over the surgical mask, (d) bring extra masks, and (e) dispose used masks properly. 

They also advise everyone to disinfect and sanitize before going inside their homes for the safety of their families.