Strict GCQ set Feb. 1-28: CAR high-risk epidemic level with 10,582 cases

>> Sunday, January 31, 2021

BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera Administrative Region will revert to stricter general community quarantine (GCQ) from Feb. 1 to 28, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Friday.
      The Cordillera was placed last week under high-risk epidemic level due to spike in cases in all six provinces including Baguio and Tabuk cities.
    CAR is under the more lenient modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
    As of 6 p.m. on Jan. 21, the region recorded 94 new cases of Covid-19.
    It now has a total of 10,582 cases, including 1,687 active infections, and 140 recorded deaths.
    The Dept. of Health confirmed Tuesday local transmission of the UK strain in Bontoc, Mountain Province, but clarified there was no community transmission since those infected can still identify the possible source of their illness.
    There was reportedly ongoing local transmission in Bontoc, meaning a local case has infected another local case. The sources of infection have been established and we can see how they are connected to each other,” DOH epidemiology bureau medical specialist Alethea de Guzman said at a virtual briefing.
    To determine the source of the virus, the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) back-traced contacts up to the 3rd generation for these B117 variant cases.
    Their samples were collected for PCR testing and genome sequencing.
    According to De Guzman, 34 close contacts of the 12 UK variant cases in Bontoc tested positive for Covid-19, six were found negative for the B117 variant, while 28 are yet to be sequenced.
    Close contacts of two returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) from Lebanon, including 283 co-passengers and the 19-person flight crew, were also traced and re-tested, subject for verification.
    Four tested positive for Covid-19, their samples collected and submitted for sequencing.
    Regarding close contacts of the case from La Trinidad, Benguet, DOH said four of six household members tested positive for Covid-19.
    Their samples were submitted for sequencing.
     Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, DOH-CAR assistant regional director, said local government units should "look into strict implementation of minimum health standards since we have seen a lot of violators and for the low-risk areas not to be complacent”.
    She said that several areas in the region that have low or no cases have started to record spike in cases due to complacency or belief that the virus will not reach their areas.
    Pangilinan said the surge in cases is still seen as a result of the high mobility of the people during the holidays with one or more close contacts infecting several others who are identified in the contact tracing process.
    During the National Task force meeting on Jan. 20, the DOH-CAR reported that the region is under the category of "high risk" epidemic level as it recorded a 2-Week Growth Rate (2WGR) of 199 percent and Average Daily Attack Rate (per 100,000 population) of 8.32.
    The DOH report also showed there were 16 LGUs in the region classified as critical epidemic areas. These included the towns of Besao, Bontoc, Sabangan, and Sadanga in the Mountain Province; Balbalan, Lubuagan, Pasil, Rizal, Tanudan, and Tabuk City in Kalinga; Atok, Itogon, Kapangan, Mankayan in Benguet; and Hungduan and Kiangan in Ifugao province.
    The report added the reasons for increase of Covid-19 cases in the region included people going to crowded places; close-contact setting and confined spaces; clustering in mining camp in Balbalan, Kalinga; people flocking at department stores, malls and schools in Baguio and Kalinga; church events in Rizal, Kalinga; as well as the increase in infection among health care workers which was observed in all the provinces.
    Mobility of persons who were possible carriers of the virus cases from high-risk areas going to low-risk areas, border control issues and the observance of cultural practices -- wakes, engagement party, family gatherings of the community where elders are the preferred visitors -- were also seen as possible reasons in the spike of cases in the region.
    It also said the non-observance of minimum public health standards as observed in most areas continue that also contributed to the spread of the infection. 
    Currently, there were 3,803 trained contact tracers in all local government units who make up 313 teams.
    The DOH-CAR bared 59 established temporary treatment facilities having 2,548 beds. Of the number, 750 were occupied while 1,798  available.
    For Critical Care units (CCUs), 166 were available of 410 isolation beds; 37 of 189 ward beds; six of the 41 ICU beds; and 22 are available out of 37 mechanical ventilators.
    This brings the region’s CCU situation to a high-risk category at 75.10 percent.
    The Cordillera started to feel the expected effect of the holiday rush on Covid-19 cases starting Jan. 14 when it logged the first record-high single day cases of 315 new patients. A few days after, it recorded another hike with 329 cases, the highest single-day record in the region. – With a report from Liza Agoot/ PNA 


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