Mayor suspects UK variant now widespread in Baguio as cases rise to 17

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Mayor Benjamin Magalong believes that the B.1.1.7 or UK variant of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is now widely circulating in the city as the number of known cases rose to 17 as of April 19.

He said that with the current situation of clustering of cases in households and work places, it cannot be discounted that there are more cases of the more transmissible UK and possibly the other variants than what are actually being reported by the Philippine Genome Center.

“We cannot capture the actual cases because of the time needed for the PGC to process the specimens that we are submitting but it appears that we are now dealing with the new variants at the rate our infection is increasing.  So mag-ingat po tayong lahat,” the mayor said.

He urged anew the public to strictly adhere to the minimum public health standards to protect themselves as he assured that the city’s infection control and case management systems remain sound to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.

“We continue to intensify our testing capability and contact tracing efficiency which remains high to this date.  Our quarantine and isolation, treatment and prevention are also being beefed up to address the current demand,” the mayor said.

City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo in her report during the Management Committee meeting April 20 said six additional UK variant cases were identified in the PGC Surveillance Report.

This is in addition to the nine cases reported as of April 12 and the two initial ones reported last March.

The six new cases were four males aged 85, 63, 57 and 24 and two females aged 71 and 32.

One was a close contact of two confirmed cases, one came from abroad, two had links to office and household clusters while two had no link to any cluster.

Of the nine cases reported as of April 12, seven were females aged 22 (two of them), 24, 26, 30, 51 and 64 and two males aged 19 and 23.

Most of them were part of the clusters being monitored by the city including the business process outsourcing, English as a second language (ESL), health workers and a household cluster.

The city’s first UK variant case was a 30-year-old female reported while the second was a two-year toddler also a female.  Both were reported last March.

Galpo said that while all of the cases had already recovered from the disease,  the city is exerting efforts to break the transmission by back tracking on the patients’ contacts from F1 to F3, retesting and conduct of data and link analyses to trace the movement of the patients, the places they went to identify the people they interacted with at the time she was infectious for monitoring and reassessment for possible infection.  – Aileen P. Refuerzo

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