Baguio friends sharing utensils in drinking sprees led to COVID-19 infection
MANILA, Philippines — Even if sharing utensils and shot glasses during drinking sprees would best indicate solid camaraderie among friends, such an act might just not be the best friendship goal in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.
In Baguio, contact tracing teams recently found out that several of the city’s newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases were people who attended drinking sessions and admitted sharing utensils with their friends.
Thus, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong issued a memorandum on Tuesday reminding all 128 barangay chiefs to strictly enforce health standards to prevent further local coronavirus transmissions as two barangays went on a hard lockdown to prevent the clustering of cases.
“Over the weekend, our testing operations resulted in two barangays under hard lockdown, and several others on lockdown for purposes of contact tracing,” Magalong said in his Memorandum No. 337-2020, a copy of which was uploaded on the Facebook page of Baguio City’s Public Information Office.
“Our Contact Tracing Teams have identified that several of our active cases had attended drinking sessions, shared eating utensils with companions, engaged in prolonged unnecessary social gatherings, and were unable to observe proper social distancing,” he added.
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These developments, Magalong noted, forced him to reconsider the reimposition of a liquor ban to avoid even small gatherings that violate health protocols in place. However, he retracted the move as businesses and establishments may suffer more, therefore just ordering barangay officials to work harder.
“What happened at Slaughterhouse and Ferdinand barangays must not be disregarded but we also have to consider the economic repercussions of implementing another liquor ban at this time when businesses are struggling to recoup their losses,” he explained.
“We needed to balance our decision and we decided for a win-win solution,” he added.
Scientists have long warned that the 2019 novel coronavirus — a type of virus similar to the ones that cause common colds and influenza — is transmitted through droplets suspended in the air, hence the need for face masks and goggles or face shields.
The possibility of transmission increases when people directly or indirectly contact the virus through used utensils or soiled parts of the body.
Magalong said the government, especially barangay officials, have no recourse but to strictly implement health regulations through legal means.
“Exercise all lawful means necessary to ensure that our citizens keep themselves, and each other, well protected and safe from COVID-19 transmission through the proper wearing of face masks, practicing basic hand hygiene and cough etiquette, not sharing drinking and eating utensils, and maintaining appropriate physical distancing,” he told barangay chiefs.
“During this time of public health emergency, discipline, precaution, and responsible behavior are paramount qualities in our response and mitigation mechanisms, and these shall be applied first and foremost in our barangay communities,” he added.
Baguio has been hailed as one of the most resilient towns in fighting the pandemic. Despite being a tourist attraction and a densely populated city, Baguio only has 606 confirmed COVID-19 patients with 200 active cases, 394 recoveries, and 12 deaths.
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