4 Bontoc villages on hard lockdown; search for UK variant carriers begins | Inquirer News

4 Bontoc villages on hard lockdown; search for UK variant carriers begins

/ 04:55 AM January 25, 2021

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET—Four villages in Bontoc, Mountain Province, were placed on hard lockdown as the capital town searches for carriers of the more infectious UK variant of the new coronavirus to avert more outbreaks of Covid-19, officials said on Sunday.

At least 12 of the 16 cases of the UK variant, known as B.1.1.7, in the country were detected in Bontoc on Friday night.

The carriers—five women and seven men—were tested for the coronavirus between Jan. 3 and 9 and proved positive for the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19.


Higher mortality level

It was not immediately known how the patients had contracted the UK variant, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Friday was associated with higher level of mortality.


On Jan. 6, the Department of Health (DOH) in the Cordillera region reported the isolation of a migrant worker in the United Kingdom who had returned to Mountain Province for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The male worker had tested negative for the coronavirus in Manila, but was later confirmed positive at a Bontoc hospital after complaining of diarrhea and heart palpitations.

The outcome of the second test came as Covid-19 cases broke out in Samoki, Bontoc Ilim, Caluttit and Poblacion villages, which were either placed on cultural lockdown or declared critical zones from Jan. 18 to 24.

Locally called “tengaw,” cultural lockdown has community elders imposing health restrictions on residents.

Following the discovery of UK variant clusters, Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey issued an executive order on Sunday, placing the four villages under enhanced community quarantine, or hard lockdown, from Monday to the end of January. All coronavirus curbs will be in place in the four villages during the quarantine period.

‘We have to keep fighting’

“After almost a year in varying levels of lockdown, people are already weary [of] Covid-19 and all its negative effects—physical, mental, social, and economic,” Odsey said in a statement.


“But we have to keep on fighting for all our own sake,” he said.

Odsey said only front-line health workers, people with medical emergencies, and authorized personnel from the national government would be allowed to enter or leave the villages under lockdown.

Odsey himself tested positive for the coronavirus on Jan. 15 and was taken into isolation. He is asymptomatic.

The DOH on Sunday sent to Bontoc contact-tracing teams from Cordillera, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon to help search for carriers of the UK variant.

Three hotels and two public schools have been designated as temporary treatment and monitoring centers.

In Benguet province, Mayor Romeo Salda of La Trinidad town imposed an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on Saturday.

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A UK variant patient is confined in a hospital in La Trinidad. INQ

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TAGS: Bontoc, COVID-19, lockdown, UK variant

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