COVID-19

COVID-19 infections in Cagayan surge with over 4,000 active cases

Joann Manabat
The Cagayan Provincial Health Officer says barangay isolation units have been set up to handle the increase in active cases

A significant increase in COVID-19 infections was recorded in the province of Cagayan on Monday, August 23, sending the number of active cases, or persons now sick with the disease, shooting up to over 4,000.

A report by the Philippine Epidemiology Surveillance Unit and the Provincial Health Unit, said the COVID-19 cases climbed to 4,001 active cases after 505 new cases were reported Monday. The total caseload in the Cagayan was 27,619 with 22,897 recoveries, and 721 deaths.

According to Cagayan provincial health officer Dr. Carlos Cortina, the total COVID-19 cases in the province between March 2020 to March 2, 2021 was 2,542 with 39 deaths. In contrast the total cases from March 3 to July 31 jumped to 18,530 with 434 deaths. Cortina said there was a plateau in July when the the number of cases dropped prior to the August surge.

“From March 2020 to March 2, 2021, nabalitaan natin yung (we heard of the) UK variant at (and) South African variant. The case mortality ratio for this is 1.53 (percent),” said Cortina.

“Early part of this period (March 3 to July 31), meron ng mga nag positive sa (there were positive cases in the) genome sequencing na (of the) UK variant, also South African variant. The case mortality for this period is 2.34%,” Cortina added.

Cortina said based on the data and his observation, authorized persons outside of residence (APORs), mass gatherings, and home quarantine were three of the main causes of the surge.

Cortina also said that starting August 22 there has already been three to four days of delay on the results of the RT-PCR swab tests due to the increase in the number of test samples gathered.

Cortina said that isolation facilities in the province were set up as barangay isolation units (BIUs) as the contact tracing was also being done per barangay.

He added that the provincial government also initiated a special program dubbed “Oplan Katok APOR” to help the barangays in maintaining the BIUs. It also aimed to help barangays achieve zero cases to avoid overcrowding in BIUs.

“The APORs could be the source magnified by mass gatherings and home quarantine. Tataas pa ito (COVID-19 cases) dahil (Expect this to increase because) our hospitals and lab are overcrowded,” he said.

Based on PESU data, 11 municipalities have reached to more than one hundred reported cases from Abulug – 120, Alcala – 209, Allacapan – 101, Aparri – 139, Baggao – 317, Ballesteros – 215, Buguey – 100, Lasam – 132, Solana – 211, Sta. Praxedes – 133, and Tuguegarao City – 1,316.

Tuguegarao City ranked first among its local government units, having the highest number of new cases at 135, followed by Baggao, 68; and Solana, 41.

Tuguegarao City Councilor Maila Ting Que urged the city government to modify and deviate COVID-19 measures as “the old ways are no longer working.”

“We have been suggesting a lot of policy changes such as mass testing, isolation facilities, and having our own molecular lab as we are still dependent on DOH and Cagayan Valley Medical Center. These don’t just cater to Tuguegarao City rather to Region 2 and the province of Cagayan. These three are lacking,” shared Que.

“If the old strategies, for the past few months, are no longer working, then it is time to look for new ways to combat the COVID-19, the surge, and this pandemic,” Que added. “We need to help our healthcare system. Sabi nga nung isang medical frontliner sa akin, (A medical frontliner told me) it is easier to revive a dying economy than revive a dying patient,” Que furthered.

Meanwhile, Que mentioned that due to the surge, there has been a call for timeout such as hard lockdown, mass testing, quarantine facilities for symptomatic and asymptomatic, as well as rapid vaccination programs.

The Filipino-Chinese business sectors in Tuguegarao, Que said, have also decided to “voluntarily close their operations” for a few days to stop the movement of people from their homes to the streets and establishments. They also said they would provide assistance to their own employees for the week. – Rappler.com

Joann Manabat is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.