The mayor of Bontoc, the capital of Mountain Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region, tested positive for the coronavirus.
This comes after the faster-spreading United Kingdom variant of the virus was detected in 12 COVID-19 cases in the town.
In a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday, January 23, Mayor Franklin Odsey reported that he was informed on January 15 that he has contracted the virus.
“Thankfully, I have no symptoms and I am under constant monitoring by my doctors,” he added.
Bontoc saw an increase in new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, prompting lockdowns in some barangays. As of Saturday, the town has a total of 343 cases, of which 269 are active.
Last Friday, January 22, Odsey confirmed that 12 specimens from positive cases in Bontoc were of the UK variant.
Of the 12, 6 had been admitted at the Bontoc General Hospital, said Odsey. They have already been discharged and tagged as recovered, but are still on quarantine, the mayor added. Three cases are still admitted at the Luis Hora Memorial Regional Hospital, while the remaining 3 cases are in home isolation.
The 12 are among the 16 new cases with the UK variant of the virus in the Philippines.
Due to these developments, Odsey announced that 4 central barangays in Bontoc – Bontoc Ili, Caluttit, Poblacion, and Samoki – have been placed under a critical zone that will follow the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) guidelines until January 31.
Bontoc will also continue to coordinate with the national government for provisions like a walk-in testing center, more medical equipment and testing kits, and additional contract tracers and health personnel.
Odsey added that 3 hotels and 2 public schools have been converted into temporary treatment and monitoring facilities. He also said he has contacted fellow mayors about intensified COVID-19 response, including strict border control.
Department of Health Cordillera regional chief Ruby Constantino said they already sent 4 teams composed of 40 people to investigate the UK variant cases in Bontoc. – with a report from Frank Cimatu/Rappler.com