Twelve cases of the more infectious United Kingdom (UK) variant of COVID-19 was detected in Bontoc, Mountain Province, Mayor Franklin Odsey said.
Odsey made the announcement in a post of the Municipality of Bontoc’s Facebook page on Friday night, January 22.
“12 out of 35 specimens from COVID-19 positive cases in this capital town have been confirmed to be of the UK variant,” the statement read.
“The Bontoc LGU urges everyone to intensify adherence to basic health protocols. Lockdown is still in effect,” it added.
The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the 12 cases in Mountain Province, saying these cases were among the 16 new cases of the UK variant in the country.
The UK variant known as B117 was first detected in the United Kingdom in September 2020. In November, around a quarter of the reported COVID-19 cases in the country were found to be of the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Based on Rappler’s monitoring using DOH data, Bontoc has the most number of COVID-19 infections in Mountain Province as of Friday.
The DOH on Wednesday, January 20, said that it was closely monitoring the pandemic situation in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases and increasing rate of hospital occupancy in the region.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the CAR attack rate, or the number of cases over the total population in a given area, has been high for the past weeks.
CAR’s attack rate from January 3 to 16 is 4.80 – the highest among all regions in the country.
To ramp up the country’s monitoring for the new COVID-19 variants, the DOH said last week that it had started its weekly biogenomic surveillance or collection of samples from the vulnerable and at-risk sectors that will undergo genome sequencing.
Genomic sequencing is the process of analyzing the virus sample taken from a diagnosed patient and comparing it with other cases to see whether those who tested positive for COVID-19 have the new variant.
The country confirmed its first known case of the UK variant on January 13 in a Filipino resident from Quezon City who traveled to Dubai on December 27 and returned to Manila on January 7. – with a report from Michael Bueza/Rappler.com