June 24, 2024

Baguio has been lauded as a model city for the contact tracing system it has developed as a tool to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Despite this, breaking the chain of local transmission within its territory is proving to be an acid test, as the contagion goes on a high and low ride, with clustering becoming to be a trend among positive cases.
Clustering of cases confined among family members and within barangays is further challenging the already tired and weary contact tracing teams composed of 600 personnel from the Baguio City Police Office and the City Health Services Office.
Very young children contracting the virus is every household’s most dreaded fear, especially for families strictly complying with the health protocols prescribed by medical experts and enforced within the city.
But sadly, this scenario has come to pass as the city bemoans having children positive for Covid-19.
While City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the country’s contact tracing czar, is always on top of his game, giving every reassurance that concerned offices are continuously crafting policies and strategies to keep the virus under control as much as possible, a surge in cases in the past two weeks has been observed.
This just shows that a lot of help and cooperation are needed to keep the virus at bay.
Residents must also do their part – to stay vigilant and to strictly follow all the minimum protocols for even those who are supposed to be among the least risk sectors of society have not been spared and caught the infection.
It is not enough that majority of contacts of confirmed Covid-19 patients are rounded up to claim success in the local government’s response to the pandemic. The more serious task ahead is to establish the causes of local transmission in spite of the city’s supposed strict implementation of guidelines imposed under the enhanced to modified general community quarantine.
Something has to be done before local transmission blows out of proportion, especially in this city which is one of the densely populated highly-urbanized cities in the country today with a population density of more than 6,000 persons per square kilometer.
Also, stricter border checkpoint protocols must be carried out 24/7, especially in the wake of information that non-Baguio residents have entered the city surreptitiously – venturing into the city for a non-essential purpose or abusing the privilege of food pass cards – both legal and not – to sneak in people into the city. In order to conceal their illicit entry, they necessarily have to skip the triage where locally-stranded individuals, overseas Filipino workers, and those who have come on essential travel are screened to ensure they are not carriers of the virus.
With reports that a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of Covid-19, has been detected in the country as confirmed by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), border control becomes even more compulsory. The new mutation, D614B, is said to have a stronger contagion feature that can cause a rapid increase in the rate of transmission which may be seen in the coming weeks or months.
To mitigate local transmission, PGC and RITM have recommended the need to strengthen surveillance and control measures at our country’s ports of entry.
In the city, strict border control must be strictly implemented to protect our residents.
A second line of defense is in the hands of barangay officials. They need to report immediately to concerned authorities’ activities that potentially spread the virus, such as drinking sprees, residents not wearing face masks outside of their residences, and mass gatherings, which are not in compliance with existing health protocols.
The surge in Covid-19 cases caused by local transmission has also made other LGUs, especially those with relative low cases to assess if their existing protocols might be more effective in containing the spread of the infection amid the directive from the national government for LGUs to send representatives Baguio to learn its contact tracing methodology.
But despite the challenges the city government is confronted with in its battle against Covid-19, a generally disciplined citizenry, not the contact tracing system, will always be what will make Baguio a model city in this trying time of the pandemic.