Magalong: CAR to revert to stricter GCQ
File photo shows Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
The STAR/Mong Pintolo, file

Magalong: CAR to revert to stricter GCQ

Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is set to revert to stricter general community quarantine (GCQ) from Feb. 1 to 15, contact-tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said yesterday in an interview with GMA News.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) was expected to officially make the same announcement last night. CAR is currently under the more lenient modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed yesterday local transmission of the UK strain in Bontoc, Mountain Province, but clarified there is no community transmission since those infected can still identify the possible source of their illness.

“There is on-going local transmission in Bontoc, meaning a local case has infected another local case. Theg 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) is back-tracing 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, are also being traced and re-tested, subject for verification. Four tested positive for COVID-19, their samples were collected and submitted for sequencing.

Regarding the close contacts of the case from La Trinidad, Benguet, DOH said that four of six household members tested positive for COVID-19. Their samples were submitted for sequencing. The other four co-workers have yet to be swabbed and tested.

Epidemiological investigation of the UK variant strain in Calamba City, Laguna is still on-going.

Local vs community

In an interview with OneNews’ “The Chiefs” on Monday night, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained the difference between local and community transmission, noting if linkages among cases and sources of infection could no longer be identified.

“But for the cases in Bontoc, we have identified specifically linkages among of all of those cases and that would be this UK traveler,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, OCTA Research group urged the government to sequence samples from other provinces to determine if there are UK variant cases after average daily cases in Cebu increased from 89 (Jan. 11 to 17) to 115 (Jan. 18 to 24), while Iloilo data rose from 27 to 38 new cases per day.

“In both of these provinces, the positivity rates and attack rates remained low, although the positivity rate in Cebu increased above five percent.”

The group also noted the continuing surge in Mountain Province where average daily new cases jumped from 21 to 35, and Kalinga that registered an increase from 23 to 37. – Janvic Mateo

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