Batanes logs first COVID community transmission
ITBAYAT, BATANES—Four residents of the capital town of Basco in Batanes have tested positive for COVID-19 despite having no travel history outside of the province, authorities said on Friday.
The infection of the four Ivatans was the first recorded community transmission in this northernmost island province since the pandemic struck last year, the provincial government said in a statement.
Based on the criteria set by the World Health Organization, community transmission occurs when the source of infection could not be determined.
Three of the COVID-19 patients were isolated at the Batanes General Hospital while the other was taken to the Department of Agriculture-Batanes Experiment Station for quarantine.
The locally transmitted virus cases were recorded just as the province was still in a state of calamity, as it was yet to recover from last week’s onslaught of Typhoon “Kiko” (international name: Chanthu) that damaged homes and buildings, including the provincial capitol, and destroyed farms.
According to the local COVID-19 task force, the four patients were the only active COVID-19 cases in the province, which registered 21 cases with no deaths since last year. The province recorded only three cases last year while the 14 others were logged early this year. All 17 recovered patients involved returning residents.
Health-care workers were also monitoring nine suspected COVID-19 cases, some of whom had tested positive for the virus in rapid antigen tests, but were still being subjected to confirmatory reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests.
Due to the virus transmission, Gov. Marilou Cayco ordered a stricter enforcement of health protocols, such as prohibiting pregnant women, residents with preexisting ailments and residents younger than 16 and older than 64 years old from leaving their houses.
Cayco also banned all nonessential mass gatherings, including church and sports activities, as part of the enhanced restrictions in the province.
In Nueva Vizcaya province, the Kasibu Municipal Hospital was temporarily closed after reaching its maximum 30-bed capacity for COVID-19 patients.
The Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Hospital also suspended its outpatient services after a number of its staff contracted COVID-19.
The Diadi Emergency Hospital, also in Nueva Vizcaya, has stopped admitting new non-COVID-19 patients since it was already operating beyond its capacity due to the rising number of virus-infected patients brought to the facility.
At least 52 cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 were already recorded in the entire Cagayan Valley, which were linked to the surge in virus cases in the region. —WITH A REPORT FROM VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.
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