In Baguio, health alert up as mercury drops
BAGUIO CITY—Private doctors have volunteered to do house-to-house visits so they can check on elderly residents and prevent the rise in fatalities as the flu season starts to sweep the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the Baguio-Benguet Medical Society said they were worried about the rising number of deaths from COVID-19, which had reached 78 as of Wednesday.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong said many of those who died were elderly people with health conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.
Doctors have been monitoring the rate of transmissions this week due to concerns that the cool weather and family gatherings during the Christmas holidays could lead to infection surges this month.
Baguio’s coldest morning this year was recorded on Jan. 10 when temperature dropped to 10.4 degrees Celsius. On Wednesday, it was 11.6 degrees.
The nippy weather is caused by the prevailing northeast monsoon, which blows from Siberia and peaks between January and February.
Health workers were placed on high alert as the plunging temperatures could overwhelm local hospitals already dealing with cold-related illnesses and COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, Baguio had recorded 3,798 COVID-19 cases, with 343 classified as active.
According to the city health services office (CHSO), some of the COVID-19 fatalities died while being taken to the hospital. This indicated that elderly residents did not leave their homes for routine medical consultations for fear of catching the coronavirus, the CHSO said.
“That’s what happened to my father,” Magalong said during a meeting with city officials. He was referring to the death of his father, Severino, in the United States last week.
He said the rising COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles prevented his father from leaving the house and getting proper diagnosis for a condition that led to his death.
The rapid increase in elderly deaths will now require an inventory of the number of elderly residents in Baguio’s 128 villages, the mayor said.
He earlier asked health workers to buy and distribute vitamins to this sector.
The elderly are on the top of the list of priorities for the city’s COVID-19 vaccination drive. Baguio has entered into a deal to buy 380,000 doses of vaccine from British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. The supply is expected in July.
According to Magalong, Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Russia has also offered 50,000 doses of its vaccine to the city government once it acquires an emergency use authorization from the national government. —VINCENT CABREZA
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