As COVID cases surge, more localized lockdowns imposed in Northern Luzon
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, Philippines — More localized lockdowns were imposed on several areas in Northern Luzon due to increasing cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including even two top local government officials.
Cagayan Vice Gov. Melvin Vargas Jr. and Mayor Franklin Odsey of Bontoc town, Mountain Province, who did not display symptoms of the disease, announced their sickness on Facebook over the weekend to inform people who had close contacts with them to take swab tests and undergo isolation.
It was not immediately known how Odsey contracted the virus, but he said all members of his household would take the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
Odsey ordered a lockdown in three villages and recommended alternative work schedules for government employees in Bontoc to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Vargas had been helping his aides distribute relief items in the towns of Gattaran, Enrile and Amulung last week before his test turned positive for the virus.
Highest in Cagayan
Two drivers and a lawyer-consultant working for the vice governor have also contracted COVID-19, forcing the closure for disinfection of his office, that of the provincial board and the capitol’s Session Hall.
In Tuguegarao City, 79 new cases were added to the city’s COVID-19 tally on Saturday, the highest number of infections registered there and in the entire Cagayan province since the pandemic began.
Records from the provincial epidemiology surveillance unit showed that most of the fresh cases were attributed to community transmissions.
In Tabuk City, Kalinga province, Mayor Darwin Estrañero ordered a 14-day lockdown in the villages of Bulanao Norte, Bulanao Centro, Agbannawag and Bado Dangwa, starting Jan. 18.
Estrañero said the city continued to experience an upswing in COVID-19 cases, recording 67 new infections on Jan. 16.
In Zambales province, three cadets of the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, prompting the school to carry out mass testing the next day.
Dr. Noel Bueno, provincial health director, said the cadets, age 25 to 29, were being treated inside a PMMA medical facility.
In Baguio City, police authorities have started training members of a contact tracing team of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) following the virus outbreak at the institution that infected at least 70 personnel and cadets since last month.
PMA officials traced the infections to food handlers and said the situation had already been contained.
—Reports from Kimberlie Quitasol, Villamor Visaya Jr. and Joanna Rose Aglibot
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