January 29, 2023

Baguio might be able to lessen the number of people infected with the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19) if the public continues to follow health protocols even when restrictions have been relaxed under the general community quarantine.

In a briefing with the city council on May 18, Asst. City Health Services Officer Celia Brillantes said Baguio may be able to “flatten the curve” of infection in two to three months if the trend remains that there is no secondary infection or those who tested positive do not infect others.

Baguio has recorded 32 positive Covid-19 cases with one death. In the contact tracing of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Bureau, close contacts of the 31 cases were negative of the SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes the Covid-19.

Brillantes said the CHSO is awaiting results of the PCR test done on close contacts of the 32nd case in Baguio, a 32-year-old male nurse who resides at Pucay Village, Marcos Highway and employed at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

The 31st case, a police officer assigned in the National Capital Region and the 32nd case are both in stable condition, Brillantes said, adding the transmission of cases has been confined at the BGHMC. 

The CHSO has also set up the Lucban Health Center and the St. Vincent gym as triage areas for returning Baguio residents and workers. Around 25,000 are expected to arrive between May 21 and June.

Brillantes also reported the BGHMC molecular laboratory processed the more than 1,600 specimens accumulated for the past two weeks.

As the BGHMC addressed the backlog, she said the city government can proceed with expanded testing beginning with health workers, those who have direct exposure to suspect or confirmed Covid-19 cases, people who have travel history, followed by barangay health workers, barangay nutrition action officers, and barangay officials, until the CHSO have tested people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Brillantes said contact tracing, isolating, and treating people who may be carriers will further lessen the spread the virus.

To address the backlog at the BGHMC, chief of hospital Ricardo Ruñez, Jr. said in a press conference on May 13 he has requested Sec. Vivencio Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the national policy against Covid-19, to direct hospitals in regions 1 and 2 to route specimen at the Asian Development Bank-funded Molecular and Diagnostic Pathology Laboratory of the Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, instead of BGH.

He said the temporary routing of specimen also helped increase BGHMC’s testing capacity. From 300 to 500 tests per day, Ruñez said they can now conduct 600 to 700 tests per day.

“Shift into GCQ should be coupled with mass test so we have to ramp up our tests so positive cases can be isolated,” Ruñez said.

Baguio has 299 quarantine beds distributed at Lindi Hotel, Teachers’ Camp, and Philippine Military Academy.

Of the 299, 110 beds are dedicated to positive Covid-19 patients, 30 are at the BGHMC, four at the Baguio Medical Center, eight at the Notre Dame de Chartres Hospital, seven at the Saint Louis University Hospital of the Sacred Heart, and 46 at the Sto. Niño Jesus isolation facility.

A total of 18 beds – 15 at the BGHMC, one each at Notre Dame, Pines, and SLU have been dedicated for Covid-19 patients under intensive care.

Ruñez also reported that all PCR machines of the BGHMC are now functioning. He said the city government is also planning to buy an automated DNA extraction machine.

“Manual kasi ang extraction (ng RNA). Kapag automated, mas mabilis na,”    Ruñez said. – Rimaliza A. Opiña