GCQ being mulled in Cordillera region

Published January 24, 2021, 1:12 PM

by Philippine News Agency

BAGUIO CITY (PNA) – Elevating the Cordillera region’s quarantine classification is being considered by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to contain the alarming spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

STRICTER QUARANTINE CLASSIFICATION. Dr. Ruby Constantino, regional director of the Department of Health Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH-CAR) in a press conference on Saturday (Jan. 23, 2021), said the DOH and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases are looking to elevate the region’s quarantine classification to general community quarantine (GCQ) from the current modified GCQ. (Photo by Liza Agoot/ VIA PNA)

This was disclosed by DOH-Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) Director Dr. Ruby Constantino that the quarantine level could be elevated to general community quarantine (GCQ) from the current modified GCQ (MGCQ).

She said this was after 13 of the 325 COVID-19 specimen samples submitted by DOH-CAR to the Philippine Genome Center turned out to be the United Kingdom (UK) variant.

She added the detection of the UK variant in the region was a major concern because has a high contamination rate, and this could further increase the number of active cases in the region.

Constantino said the IATF may reconsider its plan should the provincial and municipal local government units report that they could increase the available COVID-19 beds. 

As of January 20, DOH-CAR reported there were 59 temporary treatment facilities in the region with 2,548 beds, or a ratio of 1 is to 709. Of the number, 750 beds are occupied. 

DOH-CAR also reported there were 410 COVID-19 isolation beds in the hospitals, and 41 intensive care units (ICU) beds with 79.10 percent utilization rate, placing it in the “high risk” category.  

“We hope it does not proceed with the higher classification,” she added.

During the national IATF-EID meeting on January 20, DOH-CAR reported the region was under the category of “high risk” epidemic level as it recorded a two-week growth rate (2WGR) of 199 percent, and average daily attack rate per 100,000 population of 8.32.

The DOH report also showed there were 16 local government units (LGUs) in the region classified as critical epidemic areas due to the high number of cases.

These were the towns of Besao, Bontoc, Sabangan, and Sadanga in the Mountain Province; Balbalan, Lubuagan, Pasil, Rizal, Tanudan, and Tabuk City in Kalinga; Atok, Itogon, Kapangan, Mankayan in Benguet; and Hungduan and Kiangan in Ifugao province. 

The DOH-CAR reported that Mountain Province was the only province nationwide categorized under the critical category. 

A consolidated DOH-CAR Covid-19 tracker also showed the region recorded a total of 850 new cases in a period of five days from January 18 to January 22. 

It logged a record single day total case of 350 on January 18. As of January 22, the region has logged a total of 10,737 cases with 1,693 of them active.

Karen Lonogan, senior health officer and chief of the DOH-CAR epidemiology and surveillance unit, said they have yet to determine how the widespread the new variant has gone in the region.

On Saturday noon, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said there were 12 UK variant samples found in Mountain Province and one in La Trinidad, Benguet.

Constantino said of the number of UK variant positive cases, only three were still confined at Luis Hora hospital, while one case in La Trinidad is still confined at the temporary treatment facility managed by the province.