May 18, 2024

All six provinces and two cities in the Cordillera have recorded cases of the SARS CoV-2 variants of concern and a variant of interest, totaling 143 out of the total 36,656 cases of Covid-19 in the region as of June 3.

Most of the variants of concern – B117 (United Kingdom), B1351 (South Africa), and B16712 (India) – were observed in Abra, Baguio City, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.

A variant of interest, called P3 (Philippines), was recorded in Apayao with three cases.

Out of the 140 variants of concern, 129 are B117; 10 are B1351; and one B16712.

Baguio has the most number of the variants of concern – 36 B117 cases and two B1351 cases; followed by Mountain Province – 34 B117 and one B1351; Benguet – 23 B117 cases and one B1351; Ifugao – 17 B117 cases and five B1351 cases; Kalinga – 19 B117 cases; and Abra – one B1351; and one B16712.

Eight of the variants of concern cases have died. All are of the B117 variant, which was the first Covid-19 variant detected in the Cordillera, last December 2020 in Mountain Province.

Department of Health-Cordillera Asst. Director Amelita Pangilinan said the 143 variants were those that came back positive out of the 1,187 specimens referred for whole genome sequencing to the Philippine Genome Center.

In Baguio City, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said it is possible the city now has more cases of variants of concern cases that have not been detected yet.

Pangilinan said the whole region is under moderate epidemic risk level in terms of the two-week growth rate at -31 and high risk in terms of average daily attack rate with 8.01 per 100,000 population.

The region has 1,616 active cases out of the 34,356 total cases as of June 3, of which 93.73 percent have recovered and 676 died, or a 1.84 percent case fatality rate.

An upward trend in the number of cases was notably seen in Abra and in Apayao, which is at high risk.

While cases plateaued in Benguet, Kalinga, and Baguio City, Pangilinan said these are observed to be still high, hence local government units are advised to continue implementing control measures.

Further, five municipalities in the region are under watch for having high to critical risk: La Paz in Abra; Conner, Flora, and Sta. Marcela in Apayao; and Hungduan in Ifugao.

Nine areas in Abra and one each in Apayao, Benguet, and Ifugao are at high risk.

Benguet, Apayao, and Ifugao have been classified under modified enhanced community quarantine from June 1 to 15.

The hospital care utilization rates in these provinces and Baguio City have entered the danger zone in terms of isolation  facility bed occupancy with Apayao even reaching critical status.

Baguio City, Kalinga, Abra, and Mountain Province are under GCQ until June 30.

Pangilinan said the upsurge of cases is due to clustering where they have observed non-compliance to minimum public health standards, non-wearing of face mask, attendance to social gatherings, cases in workplaces gather during break time; non-compliance to quarantine /isolation protocols; breach of infection prevention and control protocols in health settings; presence of variants of concern; and presence of 3Cs (crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed places).   

She said the DOH’s request to the public remains not letting their guards down and continue to be guided by the rules and policies set by the government, which include limiting unnecessary travel, following isolation and quarantine protocols, and observing the minimum public health standards. – Hanna C. Lacsamana