Border checks tightened in Baguio, nearby areas
BAGUIO CITY—This city and its neighboring towns in Benguet have again tightened their border control for 11 days starting on Thursday to help regulate movement of residents amid the rising cases of COVID-19.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Wednesday said many workers and government employees here lived in the nearby towns of Itogon, Tuba, Tublay, Sablan and La Trinidad, where cases had soared due to the highly transmittable Delta variant of COVID-19.
This prompted local governments to put up a registry for informal workers crossing the borders, Magalong said during a press briefing.
He said workers would now be required to present a job certification from their respective barangays in Benguet when going to Baguio.
Data from OCTA Research showed that Baguio and Benguet were among local governments that registered the highest number of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
Baguio ranked seventh among towns and cities after logging 255 new infections while Benguet ranked fifth among provinces after recording 558 new cases.
As of Wednesday, Baguio recorded 3,567 active COVID-19 cases out of its total 22,348 cases.
More Delta cases
Benguet’s active cases rose to 3,126 out of its total 14,919. The province had logged 363 deaths since last year, according to the Department of Health on Wednesday.
Magalong said 25 cases of the Delta variant had been recorded in Baguio and had overtaken other variants previously detected in the city.
He described Delta as “a very unpredictable” strain that had “defied all established data about the disease.”
Citing Baguio’s link map and analysis of how transmissions have behaved, Magalong said it would take another month and a half before infections slowed down.
“We don’t expect things to calm down nor a downtrend of cases in the next few weeks,” Magalong said.
The health care utilization rate in Baguio and Benguet has been classified as critical because most COVID-19-dedicated beds and equipment were in use.
But the city has stocked up on medical oxygen, safety equipment and medicines required for COVID-19 patients under severe conditions, Magalong said.
Baguio had also activated “step-down” or extension of medical facilities to take in COVID-19 patients who have started to recover.
But the rate of infection has overtaken the rate of recovery, prompting some facilities like the Baguio Isolation Unit at the former Santo Niño Hospital to treat 30 severe and critical patients when no more beds were available for them, the mayor said.
Magalong, who is the contact tracing consultant of the national pandemic task force, has asked for an emergency protocol regarding medical care outside hospitals because of this experience. —VINCENT CABREZA
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