4 patients, 1 dead in Baguio may be COVID-19 cases––Magalong
BAGUIO CITY –– Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Friday (March 20) said four patients under investigation (PUI) here have a “high probability” of having contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
He also said there were strong indications that the death this week of a government employee may be connected to the virus that has sparked a worldwide pandemic since it broke out in China.
At press time, none of these patients have been listed as infected cases by the Department of Health, which considers a 39-year-old seaman in Abra province as the only COVID-19 case in the Cordillera so far.
As of March 18, the region has 21 PUIs, five of them from Baguio.
But Magalong encouraged Baguio doctors to launch the process of tracing people with whom the suspected COVID-19 cases and the deceased have interacted.
“Once we get a red flag,” the mayor said, doctors need to start contact-tracing because the “virus does not sleep … in the 8 to 10 days it takes for laboratories to finally confirm a viral transmission.”
Details and descriptions about the suspected cases have been kept confidential pending an official announcement from DOH, but Magalong said the four PUIs were immediately quarantined when they arrived in Baguio. All four were not infected in the city, he said.
The deceased employee returned from a gathering held outside Baguio, the mayor said, and had resumed work when she fell ill. Before she died, the employee had transactions with two city officials, who have since undergone self-quarantine for 14 days.
Magalong said he had concerns about the “gaps” in the DOH system, which activates contact-tracing protocols only after tests have confirmed an infection.
“We need to be aggressive. If may red flag na, galaw na tayo (If we have a red flag, we have to move quickly). Every day counts. Every hour matters,” he said.
Magalong said he also made this revelation to show Baguio residents that the COVID-19 threat was real.
The mayor had been concerned by the frequency of residents leaving their homes to purchase food at the market or downtown Baguio since the Luzon lockdown took effect on Sunday (March 15).
“Many people may not be taking the danger seriously. We have a couple who proceeded to town to buy their meal for the day from a fast-food restaurant,” said Police Colonel Allen Rae Co, city police director.
“If they know [how many are infected], then the more they follow quarantine guidelines and become more aware of their situations … Heeding the rules and staying indoors means you’re saving a life,” Magalong said.
“I don’t intend to escalate [the quarantine],” the mayor stressed, adding that he would ensure full transparency as he enforces the quarantine.
Based on the examples shown by other countries, “the best way to fight [the disease] is through social distancing and containment,” Magalong said.
Baguio is eyeing an inactive facility, the Sto. Nino Hospital, as a possible containment facility when COVID-19 cases surge in the city, Magalong said.
The owners of the 34-room Lindi Hotel also offered to host isolation rooms.
Edited by LZB
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