Bontoc in control of surge in COVID cases, new variant

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BONTOC, Mountain Province – The municipal government underscored that it has been control of the situation during the recent surge in the number of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) cases aggravated by the discovery of some 12 cases of the new variant in the locality contrary to what been depicted by some quarters that there has been no order in the management of the situation over the past several days.

Mayor Franklin Odsey stated that the local government has its own best practice in terms of contact tracing because contact tracers directly engage the patients and their close contacts right in their homes and there was no problem with such mode of conducting contact tracing, thus, it is unfair for some people to simply make unnecessary remarks on how we conduct the contact tracing without being on the ground.

He added that it is also good to adopt analytical tools and combine the use of the same with their own best practices on contact tracing to further enhance the detection and screening of probable and suspected cases but local government should not be forced to simply embrace a single mode of contact tracing because the same could be combined with other modes.

The local chief executive disclosed that the situation in the municipality significantly improved after the arrival of the contact tracers from the various regional offices of the health department in Northern Luzon and the mass testing that was done courtesy of the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) over the past several days, thus, there is no truth that the situation in the municipality is in disarray.

Mayor Odesy asserted that upon learning of the confirmed cases of the new COVID variant that were traced in the municipality, he immediately ordered the lockdown of the 4 affected barangays, Samoki, Bontoc Ili, Poblacion and Calutit, that paved the way for the immediate conduct of contact tracing where there were 144 contacts of the 12 individuals that tested positive for the new variant were traced and subjected to the required mandatory swab test.

Based on the results of the mass testing that was conducted in the municipality, there were a total of 574 persons that were tested in barangays Samoki and Tococan, 584 individuals from barangay Bontoc Ili and more than 1,100 persons from barangays Poblacion and Calutit.

The mayor reported that initially, 17 from barangay Samoki and 14 from barangay Tococan tested positive for the original COVID-19 while results from the tests that were conducted in the other barangays are being awaited.

According to him, the municipal government will study the viability of the recommendation of health authorities for the extension of the ongoing lockdown in the aforesaid barangays for another 2 weeks because there is also a need to consider that the source of income of most of the residents is hand to mouth.

The lockdown in the town’s 5 barangays, including barangay Tococan, will end on January 31, 2021 after the lapse of the 14-day hard lockdown that was enforced after the discovery of the 12 cases of the new variant that was traced to a returning resident from the United Kingdom.

Health authorities confirmed that 59 of the close contacts of the returnee tested positive for the deadly virus and that contact tracing has been completed. By HENT

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