By Villamor Visaya Jr., Philippine News Agency stringer and Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent

TUGUEGARAO CITY–Health authorities in Cagayan Valley have expressed alarm over the rising number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to hospitals after the holidays.

Dr. Glenn Mathew Baggao, chief of the Cagayan Valley Medical Center, said the hospital was treating 16 COVID-19 patients, which rose from only four cases admitted on Dec. 24.

At least 19 suspected COVID-19 patients were also being monitored in the hospital.

Baggao said the more relaxed health protocols and travel restrictions during the holidays could have caused the spike in infections.

Earlier, Tuguegarao City Health Officer James Guzman said he was worried that the highly transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 could sneak into the city since more people from Metro Manila arrived here in December.

He said five people who came in this city from Metro Manila, which is experiencing a possible local transmission of Omicron, tested positive for COVID-19.

Massive contact tracing and testing of close contacts were underway, Guzman said.#