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Batanes regains COVID-free status

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The island province of Batanes has declared itself free of the coronavirus after two patients recovered from the viral disease.

After keeping the virus at bay for several months, Batanes reported its first COVID-19 case in September – a locally stranded individual who returned to the province earlier that month. Another returnee tested positive for the virus on October 1.

Sa awa ng Diyos ay nakalabas na po sila. Okay na po, COVID-free na po kami,” Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco said in an online media briefing on Saturday.

[Translation: By God’s grace, they have been discharged. We’re COVID-free again.]

All close contacts of the two patients tested negative for coronavirus infection, Cayco said. A total of 95 returning residents and overseas Filipinos are currently under quarantine but all are asymptomatic, the governor added.

Batanes remains closed to tourists, but this may change depending on the situation in COVID-19 epicenter Metro Manila and other areas by December, Cayco said. She cited the need to reopen the economy for residents relying on tourism for their livelihood

Much of the country, including Batanes, is under modified general community quarantine, considered as a transition phase to the “new normal” wherein strict measures would be lifted. The country has recorded more than 391,000 COVID-19.