The highland municipality of Bontoc confirmed 12 local transmissions of the more contagious UK variant of COVID-19, triggering granular lockdowns, mass testing, and a moratorium on indigenous rituals, officials said.
The cases in Bontoc, the capital of Mountain province are either from a returning resident from overseas, or from specific cases or exposures that can still be identified, or what qualifies as a local transmission, the Department of Health said.
A local transmission is different from a community transmission, wherein the sources of infections are not as easily traced.
The 12 cases of the UK variant were detected from 35 positive cases, of which seven are men and three are minors. Eleven come from one village, Barangay Samoki, DOH said.
What's the gameplan?
Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey said his reponse plan aims to cap the 203% surge in infections after the Christmas holidays. Odsey has COVID-19 but shows no symptoms.
The mass testing will be mandatory for state workers, the mayor said on Facebook.
A lockdown similar to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) is in place throughout January. The central barangays of Bontoc Ili, Caluttit, Poblacion, and Samoki are classified as critical zones.
The ECQ is the highest form of restrictions under the national government's four-tier system. It requires everyone to stay at home with just one person per household allowed to go out for essentials.
The restrictions also include a moratorium on Indigenous People's rituals. According to the health department, the returning overseas Filipino in Barangay Samoki attended a “mangmang” or a ritual for the sick, before testing positive for COVID.