COVID-19 cases in Northern Samar, Mt. Province continue to rise

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 21) – COVID-19 cases in Northern Samar and Mountain Province increased on Friday, according to their local health officials.

Both were placed under the second to the highest Alert Level 4 from Jan. 21 to 31, along with two other areas in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

RELATED: Four provinces under Alert Level 4, 15 areas under Alert Level 3 from Jan. 21 to 31 

Speaking to CNN Philippines' News Night, Northern Samar provincial health officer Dr. Ninfa Caparroso-Kam said they logged 455 new COVID-19 infections on Friday - slightly higher than Thursday's 359 new cases.

Despite the rise in cases, Caparroso-Kam said their hospitalization rate went down from 69% to 47% on Friday.

She added that Northern Samar has more mild than moderate infections - labeling most as "incidental."

"Pumunta sila sa (They went to the) hospital not because they are having symptoms of COVID, but ito ay manganganak, ito ay naaksidente (they are giving birth or were involved in an accident). It so happened we did a swab (test) and they tested positive so they were brought straight to our COVID ward," Caparroso-Kam explained.

The provincial health officer also said there's still vaccine hesitancy among residents, but the no vaccine, no entry rule has encouraged more people to get inoculated. As of Monday, Caparroso-Kam said Northern Samar's vaccinate rate was at 69%.

Eastern Visayas, where Northern Samar is located, listed 879 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday - the highest since the coronavirus was first detected in 2020.

In a separate interview, Mt. Province health officer II Dr. Annie Claire Pekas said they had 125 confirmed cases on Friday compared to Thursday's 114.

She also said occupancy rates in the province's five hospitals and two infirmaries are above 70%, but added that most infections are mild to moderate - with only 81 of their 407 active cases needing hospitalization.

COVID-19 patients isolated in their homes are being monitored by local health authorities. Pekas said they still have enough supply of medicine, like paracetamol, for those who got infected.

As for vaccination, 49.8% of target residents are already fully vaccinated while 54% are partially immunized, she noted.

Pekas added that the administration of booster shots is ongoing.