OCTA: Virus outbreak in Benguet, Baguio still ‘severe’ | Inquirer News
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Summer capital POSTS highest daily attack rate outside NCR

OCTA: Virus outbreak in Benguet, Baguio still ‘severe’

/ 04:30 AM January 25, 2022

SURVIVING HARD TIMES Benguet vegetable traders continue to produce salad vegetables like lettuce to generate income and meet the demand outside the province in this photo taken on Jan. 4. Benguet has been experiencing a severe outbreak of COVID-19 cases, according to independent research group OCTA. —EV ESPIRITU

BAGUIO CITY—The COVID-19 risk level of the province of Benguet remained to be on a “severe outbreak” since Jan. 21 due to the steady increase in the number of infections, data from OCTA Research showed on Monday.

Benguet again topped the OCTA list of provinces outside the National Capital Region (NCR) with the highest average daily attack rate (Adar) at 101.48 per 100,000 population. Adar is the number of individuals found infected for every 100,000 people.

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The province recorded 1,290 new cases on Sunday alone and registered a weeklong growth of 86 percent, OCTA said.

Mountain Province, Ifugao and Kalinga had a very high outbreak based on the Adar registered in these areas. The three provinces were placed under the more stringent alert level 4 from Jan. 21 to Jan. 31.

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At least eight border checkpoints were set up in Kalinga on Sunday to regulate the movement of those belonging to the vulnerable population and unvaccinated individuals, according to the provincial Inter-Agency Task Force.

‘No vax, no entry’

In Mountain Province, 91 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Sunday, raising to 553 its active COVID-19 cases and prompting local officials to also tighten their monitoring at the border checkpoints.

Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr. said the province had been enforcing a “no vaccination, no entry” policy at the borders it shared with Kalinga, Isabela, Ifugao, Benguet, Ilocos Sur and Abra.

Baguio City also logged the highest Adar among the highly urbanized cities outside NCR on Sunday, registering 161.90 per 100,000 population.

According to OCTA, Baguio’s infection level was also classified as a severe outbreak since Jan. 18 based on the international indicators being used by the independent research group.

Data from the Department of Health showed that Baguio city added a record-high 902 new COVID-19 cases to its tally on Sunday although the City Health Services Office logged only 654 new infections as of 6 p.m. on the same day.

Alarming surge

Despite the alarming virus surge in the summer capital, Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Monday said they were expecting that the number of active cases would start to “plateau” this week until next week before decreasing by the second week of February.

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Magalong said the city was still seeing a rising number of COVID-19 cases due to the high testing capacity of the local government.

“[New COVID-19] cases and testing are directly correlated. If we have high testing [capacity] generally, we have a high number of infections,” Magalong told reporters here.

—REPORTS FROM ALLAN MACATUNO AND VILLAMOR VISAYA JR. INQ

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