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Contact tracing and link analyses being conducted on the B117 or UK variant cases in Bontoc and La Trinidad towns revealed they had links to some residents of the city including four Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) patients.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong said an ongoing analysis of the 12 Bontoc cases showed there were three residents who were close contacts and four COVID-19 patients from the city who had links to some of the 12 UK variant cases in the Mt. Province capital town.
While contact tracing done for the sole La Trinidad UK variant case revealed that the patient’s father is taxi driver who may have been plying the city’s route. The patient also had 83 co-workers, more than nine of whom are city residents.
The mayor said the city’s help was sought by the Dept. of Health regional office which on Jan. 23 had expedited contact tracing operations in the Cordillera Administrative Region to contain cases of the new variant detected in the 13 patients.
DOH-CAR Regional Director Ruby Constantino in a press briefing said the region was among the first areas in the country with detected UK variant because it was the only region diligently submitting specimens to the Philippine Genome Center for analysis.
In a press statement, the DOH said that of the 12 cases in Bontoc, seven are male and five are female. Three are aged below 18 years old and another three are above 60
The La Trinidad patient was described as a “local case” having had no travel history from outside the country. The patient is currently admitted in a Benguet Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility.
The country now has a total of 17 cases of the UK variant which is said to be a more contagious type.
The first case was a resident of Quezon City who had travel history in United Arab Emirates while the others were two returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) from Lebanon and one from Calamba City in Laguna who is also considered a local case.
The DOH said that apart from immediate contact tracing operations, it will also conduct an investigation to identify these cases’ exposure and travel histories as it called on the public to intensify adherence to the health protocols.
“Biosurveillance is in place, and we will continue to expand our capacities to detect all COVID variants of public health importance. The DOH calls on local government units to ensure strict monitoring and compliance to quarantine protocols in their respective localities. The DOH also reiterates that non-adherence and incorrect adherence to minimum public health standards (MPHS) are the drivers of transmission and mutation and therefore strongly urges the public to strictly and properly follow the MPHS in all settings,” the department said. — Aileen P. Refuerzo/PIO Baguio