December 6, 2022

Health authorities are still baffled how Mountain Province, the last province in the Cordillera to have been infected by the virus that causes the Covid-19, has become the largest contributor to the more infectious UK variant that was detected in the country.
All eyes have been on the capital town of Bontoc after the Department of Health confirmed on Jan. 22 that 12 of the 14 UK variant cases confirmed in the country at the time are from the municipality. The other two cases are from La Trinidad, Benguet and Laguna.
While response has been quick with the DOH sending teams from regions 1, 2, and 3 to help in contact tracing, the agency remains clueless on how the UK variant spread in Bontoc.
DOH-Cordillera Senior Health Program Officer Karen Lonogan said investigation is ongoing to determine the origin of the UK variant.
An overseas Filipino worker from the United Kingdom who went home to the province and later tested positive for Covid-19 in December last year was initially considered as the source of the infection, but this was overruled.
In a press conference on Jan. 28, Lonogan said they were informed that results of the samples from the OFW showed no traces of the UK variant.
“We still cannot directly link the 12 cases to the UK traveler, especially since we were informed his samples showed no traces of the UK variant; although we have yet to receive the official result (from the Philippine Genome Center),” Lonogan said.
The two family members of the OFW, who travelled with him from the UK, have tested negative for Covid-19.
The family arrived in the Philippines on Dec. 11. They tested negative for Covid-19 upon arrival.
Lonogan said on Dec. 13, the family travelled to Mountain Province via Cervantes, Ilocos Sur.
From Dec. 14 to 20, they stayed in Bontoc.
Lonogan said on Dec. 19, they applied for a travel authority to Baguio City but this did not push through because of the typhoon.
On Dec. 21, they visited Sagada and intended to proceed to Besao, but they did not proceed because the town was on lockdown at the time.
On Dec. 25, the family attended a party and on Dec. 26, they performed a ritual where their relatives from Sagada attended.
The following day, the patient experienced Covid-19 symptoms and complained of abdominal pains.
He was brought to the Luis Hora Memorial Hospital in Bauko where he was tested.
His results, released on Dec. 29, yielded he was positive for Covid-19. His wife and child tested negative.
Lonogan said with the information that his samples have no traces of the UK variant the DOH cannot conclude that he is the source of the infection, which affected the 12 people from Barangay Samoki.
She said they are identifying other returning OFWs who also arrived in Bontoc. – Jane B. Cadalig