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Virus cases surge anew in Baguio

No reason to panic as efficient contract tracing is in place, assures Mayor Magalong
/ 05:06 AM October 24, 2020

BAGUIO CITY—Two coronavirus outbreaks here that occurred in September have led to a spike in infections, prompting a University of the Philippines (UP) research team to classify the city as high-risk, government doctors said on Thursday.

The latest findings from the UP Octa Research listed Baguio, alongside the City of Ilagan in Isabela and Bukidnon province, as having a high average of infections each day. This resulted in the use of more critical care resources like isolation beds.

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But Baguio managed to contain transmissions due to efficient contact tracing to locate the infected, according to Dr. Ruby Constantino, director of the Department of Health in Cordillera.

The gradual reopening of businesses, including tourism, led to the lifting of restrictions on travel, “and we expect cases will definitely increase,” Constantino said.

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Necessary step

She said easing rules on public movement was “a necessary step for economic revival,” given the difficulties arising from a recession brought about by the Luzon lockdown.

But members of the medical community here were concerned about how the rise in number of patients would tax the city’s health system, said Dr. Thea Cajulao, adult infectious disease specialist of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC).

“Should we panic? Of course not. But we should not also remain complacent. We should act fast before the health system gets overwhelmed,” she said.

Baguio’s 1,752 patients, who were being treated since March, represented 60 percent of the 2,798 confirmed cases in Cordillera.

A high-risk classification would focus attention on the increasing use of resources and manpower which Cajulao described as “worrisome.”

She said BGHMC, the city’s front-line facility for coronavirus cases, was treating 60 patients, including 14 who were suffering from fever and pneumonia.

Root of the problem

She also noted a rise in the number of senior citizens, aged 60 and older, who had been infected. A number of them were among the 22 fatalities recorded in Baguio.

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“So we have to go down to the root of the problem, which is controlling [infections],” Cajulao said.

Baguio has opened new temporary isolation facilities at Teachers’ Camp and Camp John Hay. A central triage dedicated to tourists has been opened at the Baguio Convention Center.

According to Mayor Benjamin Magalong, residents need not panic about the increased transmissions because authorities are locating suspected patients so they could be isolated.

The city’s data analysts are mapping out where transmissions are likely to occur, so barangay officials have been tapped to remind residents to always wash their hands, observe social distancing, and wear masks and shields, he said.

Stricter border controls

All provinces in Cordillera have infections and have stricter border controls. Lagawe town in Ifugao province, for instance, has banned entry of cargo vehicles.

Except for Benguet, where cases are also high, almost every Cordillera province has reservations about reopening to tourism.

In Isabela province, active cases rose to 396 with 16 new patients reported on Thursday. Twelve patients were recorded in Ilagan City, three in Roxas town and one case was listed in Santiago City. The active cases included six returning overseas workers, 40 locally stranded individuals and 23 health workers.

A “No QR Code, No Entry” policy was imposed on entry points in Isabela and on people entering the provincial government-operated Gov. Faustino N. Dy Sr. Memorial Hospital, Cauayan District Hospital, Roxas District Hospital, Milagros District Hospital, Echague District Hospital, and the San Mariano Community Hospital. —VINCENT CABREZA AND VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: Baguio, cases, Coronavirus, COVID-19, spike, surge
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