Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, DOH-CAR assistant regional director, said local government units (LGUs) should "look into strict implementation of the minimum health standards since we have seen a lot of violators and for the low-risk areas not to be complacent”.
She said that several areas in the region that have low or no cases have started to record spike in cases due to complacency or belief that the virus will not reach their areas.
As of 6:00 p.m. on January 21, the region has recorded 94 new cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). It now has a total of 10,582 cases, including 1,687 active infections, and 140 recorded deaths.
Pangilinan said the surge in cases is still seen as a result of the high mobility of the people during the holidays with one or more close contacts infecting several others who are identified in the contact tracing process.
The doctor said that in an epidemic situation, the number of cases fluctuates thus the need for persons to always be conscious of the health and safety protocols to be able to protect themselves.
“Protect yourself, wear face mask and face shield and observe physical distancing,” she said.
During the National Task force meeting on Jan. 20, the DOH-CAR reported that the region is under the category of "high risk" epidemic level as it recorded a 2-Week Growth Rate (2WGR) of 199 percent and Average Daily Attack Rate (per 100,000 population) of 8.32.
The DOH report also shows that there are 16 LGUs in the region classified as critical epidemic areas. These are 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 report added that the reasons for the increase of Covid-19 cases in the region include the people going to crowded places; close-contact setting and confined spaces; clustering in mining camp in Balbalan, Kalinga; people flocking at department stores, malls and schools in Baguio and Kalinga; church events in Rizal, Kalinga; as well as the increase in infection among health care workers which was observed in all the provinces.
Mobility of persons who are possible carriers of the virus cases from high-risk areas going to low-risk areas, border control issues and the observance of cultural practices -- wakes, engagement party, family gatherings of the community where elders are the preferred visitors -- were also seen as possible reasons in the spike of cases in the region.
It also said the non-observance of minimum public health standards as observed in most areas continue that also contributed to the spread of the infection.
Readiness to address
Currently, there are 3,803 trained contact tracers in all local government units who make up 313 teams.
The DOH-CAR said there are 59 established temporary treatment facilities having 2,548 beds. Of the number, 750 are occupied while 1,798 are available.
For Critical Care units (CCUs), 166 are available of the 410 isolation beds; 37 of 189 ward beds; six of the 41 ICU beds; and 22 are available out of 37 mechanical ventilators.
This brings the region’s CCU situation to a high-risk category at 75.10 percent.
The Cordillera started to feel the expected effect of the holiday rush on Covid-19 cases starting Jan. 14 when it logged the first record-high single day cases of 315 new patients. A few days after, it recorded another hike with 329 cases, the highest single-day record in the region. (PNA)
By Liza Agoot