November 30, 2022

Baguio, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province are still classified high risk in terms of average daily attack rate (ADAR).

Based on a two-week (last week of April to first week of May) growth change, the Department of Health reported the average ADAR in the Cordillera is 16.01 percent per 100,000 population.

Ifugao has the highest ADAR at 34.79, Mountain Province at 24.41, Baguio 23.13, Kalinga 14.35, and Benguet 9.84.

Only Abra and Apayao are at moderate risk with 1.72 and 7.44 respectively.

The region remains under general community quarantine due to the surge in cases beginning January.

DOH-CAR Assistant Director Amelita Pangilinan said a team from the agency recently visited Ifugao to assess the Covid-19 response in the province, where the first B1351 variant of concern was discovered.

Pangilinan said the surge in Ifugao was due to the lenient implementation of basic health protocols and lockdowns.

She said the local inter-agency task forces in Ifugao did not calibrate their Covid-19 response especially when they eased restrictions on the entry of non-residents, returning residents, and returning overseas workers.

“Wala nang mas-yadong restriction. May mga mass gathering. May mga wake, meeting, party,” Pa-ngilinan said.

She said an ideal approach to prevent infection would have been to impose travel restrictions such as what is being done in Abra.

To slow down the spread of the virus, Pangilinan said the team from the DOH gathered concerned officials from the emergency operations center, Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office and contact tracing teams to enhance their Covid-19 response.

She reminded that apart from minimum health protocols, limiting movement and avoiding crowds are still the recommended ways to prevent virus transmission.

Pangilinan said while vaccination is ongoing, it is uncertain on when all vaccines bought by the government and those to be given by the World Health Organization will arrive to inoculate the eligible population.

As of May 2, 22,737 individuals in the Cordillera have been vaccinated.

Out of the total individuals vaccinated, 1,633 adverse events following immunization have been reported for the first and second doses of both Sinovac and AstraZeneca which comprise 1,628 minor and five serious cases.

Pangilinan said most symptoms have been resolved within a few hours to one day.

The DOH officialhas appealed anew for the public to be cooperative and vigilant.

“As cases continue to rise in the region, rest assured that we at the Department of Health, along with our partner line agencies and other concerned stakeholders, are committed towards doing everything we can to help make this current situation more manageable. However, we cannot do this alone. We need your help – we urge everyone to be cooperative and vigilant in adhering to the rules and policies set by our government, which include limiting unnecessary travel, following quarantine/isolation protocols, and practicing the minimum public health standards.”

She also encouraged those who still have doubts to have themselves vaccinated. “History has proven that vaccines work. They are safe, free and effective. Let us be patient, trust in science and submit ourselves to be vaccinated when our turn comes, and encourage others who are eligible to do the same,” Pangilinan said. –   Rimaliza A. Opiña