Almost but not quite
Until a female streetsweeper from Upper Dagsian tested positive for the coronavirus disease-2019 on April 10, Baguio City recorded zero infection for 13 straight days.
Talk about flattening the curve, Baguio City exceeded that. It went beyond all expectations and limited the effect of the contagion among its residents. Kudos to Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who injected a strict approach in enforcing the enhanced community quarantine to heal the city. Notwithstanding the three patients who tested positive last week, Baguio City, but the sheer fact that it had none for almost two weeks, stands out among all local government units in the fight against the virus.
In a press release, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the Inter-Agency Task Force Against Covid-19 (IATF), cited Baguio City as a role model. Yet, Baguio City shines the brightest because it is the melting point of all ethnicity and indigents in the entire Cordillera and other adjoining provinces.
With several entry points, it is magnificent how the mayor was able to enforce the lockdown to its fullest extent. The result speaks for itself. No additional patients for 13 straight days, a record of sorts considering that other areas are reporting infections by the hundreds.
When asked about the success of the city in fighting the coronavirus, Mayor Magalong was modest in parrying the credit for himself. He simply said that the success was due to an effective testing method, an expeditious identification of suspected patients and contact tracing.
Of course, all other local government units know the three elements he mentioned. However, it takes good leadership and dedicated frontline workers to implement it. That, we have plenty of. Baguio City is blessed with a good leader in our beloved mayor and tireless frontline workers such as doctors, nurses, security guards, police officers, soldiers, utility workers, and delivery personnel, who have demonstrated courage, foresight, and bravery in confronting the unseen enemy head-on. They take no quarters and give none. We owe them a debt of gratitude. We remain alive, hale, and healthy because of them.
Thanks, too, to all the victims who have braved exposing themselves so as to make it easier for all of us to know who have had direct contact with someone who is infected with the virus. Despite the prohibition under the Privacy Data Act, in Baguio City, our leaders were able to convince them to sign a waiver regarding the confidentiality of their identity so as to make contact tracing faster.
The effect is marvelous. The city no longer has to go far and wide to know the people who are considered persons under investigation. They come forth voluntarily, easing an additional burden of pinpointing affected individuals.
Hence, no longer do we label patients by the numbers. They are known by their names. The fear that they will be ridiculed is more a fancy talk than it is real. Being infected with the coronavirus is not as embarrassing or dehumanizing as being ill with HIV or AIDS. The latter only affects the promiscuous type while the former affects all, regardless of sex, race, creed, religion, color, status and inclination.
We can all be victims. Thus, if we are going to defeat it, there must be a concerted effort. Those who come forth to confess their being infected ought not to be ostracized. On the contrary, they must be regarded as heroes. By revealing their identities, they do us all a favor because it allows us to exercise the necessary precautions against the virus.
This method of contract tracing, which was first adopted in the City of Baguio, proved so efficient that the IATF is now making it mandatory for all infected patients to reveal their identities. No ifs, no buts. Once a person is positive, he must be identified in a manner of protecting the community. That’s right, the primary consideration is the welfare of the community and its residents.
In other cities and municipalities, mayors are having a difficult time in quarantining their residents. It is a thankless task. There are plenty of pasaways. Not in Baguio City. People here have shown the meaning of bayanihan. They comply with the directive to stay home. They have disciplined themselves beyond the call of duty to render an easier solution to the problem at hand.
Along with good leadership, the patience and cooperation of Baguio residents are bolstering the image that in this part of the country, we are on the brink of defeating the coronavirus. We are almost there. Not quite, but in due time, we shall overcome this crisis.
To all Baguio City residents, stay home, stay safe, and stay healthy.