COVID-19 cases rising outside NCR Plus bubble
LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines — Just outside the containment bubble composed of the National Capital Region (NCR) and four provinces created by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19 cases are also rising.
In Quezon, the province closest to the “bubble” composed of Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, fresh cases have hit 111 on Saturday, the highest daily tally in the locality this year.
By Sunday, 33 more COVID-19 cases were added to the tally, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 987, which was only 597 on April 1. The COVID-19 death toll in the province now stood at 318, provincial health authorities said.
Gov. Danilo Suarez has placed 17 municipalities in the province under the stringent general community quarantine status from April 7 to April 21 to curb the rise in cases.
In Batangas, the last province in the Southern Tagalog region, health authorities were also grappling with rising cases, totaling 3,382 active virus carriers as of Sunday.
Ten more patients died of the disease on Sunday, bringing the total death toll in the province to 542 since the pandemic started last year, authorities said.
A spike in Bicol
Bicol region in the southern tip of Luzon also reported a spike in cases, logging 83 new infections on Saturday, the highest recorded during the past 10 days.
Dr. Aurora Deluro, Department of Health regional epidemiology chief, said at a briefing on Saturday that the increase of cases in the region would be attributed to the influx of residents from NCR who returned home for the Holy Week break and those who evaded the NCR plus lockdown that was declared in March that was to end on April 4 but was extended to April 14.
Most of the fresh cases were recorded in Camarines Sur province, Bicol’s boundary to Quezon, according to health officials.
In La Union province, eight localities were placed under a more restrictive modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) due to alarming growth of COVID-19 infections.
Last week, the towns of Aringay, Luna, Naguilian, Tubao and Agoo and the capital city of San Fernando had to impose tougher quarantine measures after logging over 100 active cases daily since April 1. These areas shifted to MECQ starting April 8 until April 21.
The latest to go into MECQ are the towns of Bauang, which recorded 178 active infections, and Bangar with 117 as of April 11, according to their local governments. The two towns will be on MECQ from April 10 to April 23.
In San Fernando (population: 121,812 based on 2015 census) alone, local health data showed that one in every 253 of its residents had been infected with the virus.
The entire province has 1,955 cases with 72 recoveries and 43 new active cases as of April 11.
Local health officials have yet to issue a statement on the cause of the sudden spike in virus infections in the province but records showed that most of these were triggered by local transmissions.
La Union’s hospitals and isolation facilities were almost filled to the brim, the provincial government said on April 11.
Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III, has imposed stricter border control policies in the province, requiring all travelers to present negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test results before they could be allowed in.
—REPORTS FROM DELFIN T. MALLARI JR., MAR ARGUELLES AND YOLANDA SOTELO INQ
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