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Cordillera logs 3 new UK variant cases

Latest patients from Mountain Province and Benguet; Cebu prepares to manage infection spike

BAGUIO CITY—Three more cases of the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19 were recorded in the Cordillera, raising to 21 the number of such infections in the region, according to a top regional official of the Department of Health (DOH).

The latest to contract the more transmissible COVID-19 variant, also known as B117 and first discovered in the United Kingdom, were two residents of Bontoc town, Mountain Province, and La Trinidad town, Benguet province, said Dr. Ruby Constantino, DOH Cordillera director.

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She did not provide details as to how the three latest patients were infected.

Most of the earlier UK variant cases in the region had been traced to Bontoc. All 17 previously recorded patients have since recovered from the disease.

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The country’s lone UK variant fatality was recorded in La Trinidad.

As of Wednesday, Cordillera recorded 887 active cases of COVID-19 out of 14,190 patients since March 2020.

Medium risk

According to Constantino, the region’s epidemic risk classification has been downgraded from “high” to “medium” on Thursday due to declining average daily attack rate, or the proportion of virus-infected patients against the healthy population.

The region was placed on stricter general community quarantine (GCQ) for the entire month of February following the outbreaks of the UK variant in Bontoc in January.

Baguio City was exempted from GCQ restrictions on leisure travel to sustain the reopening of health-regulated tourism activities. No significant increases in infections have been attributed to visitors, said Dr. Celia Brillantes, assistant health services officer, during the same briefing.

In Cebu, the DOH in Central Visayas said it would open more hotels in the province for COVID-19 patients who were either asymptomatic or with mild symptoms.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH regional spokesperson, said her office needed to prepare, especially since the number of coronavirus cases in Cebu kept going up.

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“If there will be a continuing increase in the number of moderate to severe cases, then we should be ready. We cannot let ourselves be overrun by this rising number unlike last year when we were not really that prepared,” she said.

Isolation hotels

Cebu has eight isolation hotels for COVID-19 patients while at least 18 others are designated for returning overseas Filipino workers who are mostly awaiting results of their swab tests.

“Accrediting hotels for COVID-19 patients does not mean that we are running out of hospital beds,” Loreche said. Many patients, she said, preferred to stay in hospitals than government-designated quarantines.

She encouraged COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms to consider temporary treatment in quarantines instead of hospitals to give way to critically and severely ill patients.

“We want the hospitals purely for those that require hospitalization like moderate to severe and critical individuals,” she said.

Loreche said the move would also help the hotel industry which was badly hit by the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, Cebu City had recorded 16,904 cases of COVID-19. At least 3,120 of them are considered active, with 13,057 recoveries and 727 deaths, the DOH said.

Cebu province recorded 9,821 cases, of which 1,308 were active. It recorded 8,058 recoveries and 455 deaths.

In June 2020, Cebu City was placed under enhanced community quarantine, the strictest form of lockdown, due to a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, as well as for its problem to provide critical health-care assistance to patients. It took about two months before the city was downgraded to modified GCQ, the most relaxed form of community quarantine.

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TAGS: Cordillera, COVID-19 UK variant, UK variant
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