Virus spreads fast in Batanes; La Union capital tightens curbs
ITBAYAT, BATANES—As COVID-19 cases continued to increase sharply in Batanes in recent weeks, medical front-liners serving local communities started to be exposed to the virus, forcing them to undergo isolation to manage the spread of infection in the northernmost province.
In this town, for instance, at least six health-care workers from the rural health unit (RHU) and district hospital were placed in an isolation facility after they were exposed to infected patients.
According to Kristine Nico, nurse at the Itbayat RHU, the front-liners have undergone swabbing for a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test to confirm if they were carriers of the virus. Itbayat has logged 17 active COVID cases.
As of Wednesday, 33 new COVID-19 cases were registered in the entire province, raising to 476 its active infections. The latest cases were logged in the towns of Basco, Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan and Sabtang.
Most of the active cases in Batanes were recorded after the province confirmed its first case of community transmission in Basco on Sept. 16.
San Fernando under MECQ
Since last year, the province had already recorded 516 COVID-19 cases with 38 recoveries and two deaths. The two fatalities, both men, age 77 and 88, were recorded in September.
In La Union province, the capital San Fernado City will revert to stricter quarantine classification for two weeks starting on Friday amid a spike in COVID-19 cases fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant, an official said on Thursday.
In an executive order, San Fernando Mayor Hermenegildo Gualberto said there was a need to place the city under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), the second most restrictive containment classification, until Oct. 14 to control the transmission of the virus. The city was previously placed under the less strict general community quarantine.
Citing local health data, Gualberto said San Fernando recorded 1,186 active COVID-19 cases, spread out in the city’s 48 villages, as of Wednesday.
He said 59 percent of the total active COVID-19 cases in the city were due to the transmission of the virus among employees in private and public establishments.
At least 182 medical front-liners and 152 personnel of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard based in the city were among the active cases.
Under MECQ, the movement of people will be restricted but they will be allowed to access essential goods and services, Gualberto said.
The mayor had also ordered the establishment of “quarantine control points” in all villages in the city. —REPORTS FROM NATHAN ALCANTARA AND JOHN MICHAEL MUGAS
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