STRICTER QUARANTINE CLASSIFICATION. Dr. Ruby Constantino, regional director of the Department of Health Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH-CAR) in a press conference on Saturday (Jan. 23, 2021), said the DOH and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases are looking to elevate the region’s quarantine classification to general community quarantine (GCQ) from the current modified GCQ. Constantino said the increase in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases placing the region in the high risk category, the decreasing number of hospital Covid-19 beds, and the recent information the UK variant has entered the Cordillera are factors that will make the national offices decide to pursue quarantine plan.(Photo by Liza Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY – The region’s quarantine classification is being eyed to be elevated to general community quarantine (GCQ) starting next month to contain the further spread of the coronavirus, the Department of Health in Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH-CAR) said.


In a press conference Saturday, DOH-CAR regional director Dr. Ruby Constantino said the national DOH and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) want higher quarantine classification for Cordillera from the current modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).   


Constantino said a higher quarantine category was planned before Friday when 13 of the 326 specimen samples of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) submitted by the DOH-CAR to the Philippine Genome Center turned out to be the UK variant. 


She added the detection of the presence of the UK variant in the region is another concern as it has a high probability of being transmitted which will further increase active cases in the region.


Constantino said the IATF may reconsider its plan should the provincial and municipal local government units increase the available Covid-19 beds. 


As of Jan. 20, the DOH-CAR reported there were 59 temporary treatment facilities in the region with 2,548 beds, or a ratio of 1:709. Of the number, 750 beds are occupied. 


The DOH-CAR reported there are also 410 Covid-19 isolation beds in the hospitals and 41 intensive care units (ICU) beds with 79.10 percent utilization rate, placing it in the “high risk” category.  


“We hope it does not proceed with the higher classification,” she added.


During the national IATF-EID meeting on Jan. 20, the DOH-CAR reported the region is under the category of “high risk” epidemic level as it recorded a two-week growth rate (2WGR) of 199 percent, and average daily attack rate per 100,000 population of 8.32.


The DOH report also shows there are 16 local government units (LGUs) in the region classified as critical epidemic areas due to the high number of cases.


These are 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 DOH-CAR reported that Mountain Province is the only province nationwide categorized under the critical category. 


A consolidated DOH-CAR Covid-19 tracker also shows the region recorded a total of 850 new cases in a period of five days from Jan. 18 to 22. 


It logged a record high single day total case of 350 on Jan. 18. As of Jan. 22, the region logged a total of 10,737 cases with 1,693 of them active.


UK variant detected 


Karen Lonogan, senior health officer and chief of the DOH-CAR epidemiology and surveillance unit, said they have yet to know how the variant reached the region.


On Saturday noon, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said there are 12 UK variant samples found in Mountain Province and one in La Trinidad, Benguet.


Constantino said of the number of UK variant positive cases, only three are still confined at Luis Hora hospital, while one case in La Trinidad is confined at the temporary treatment facility managed by the province. 


Constantino said strict observance of health and safety protocols remains our most effective protection against the virus. (PNA)


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