February 23, 2024

■  Jane B. Cadalig 

The majority of those who were affected by acute gastroenteritis reported they had dined in food establishments before they suffered the symptoms.

Based on the dashboard of the City Health Services Office (CHSO) as of Jan. 12, 62.4 percent of the 2,764 individuals who accessed the self-reporting platform created by the office, reported they dined in a food establishment.

The CHSO released the QR for the food and waterborne illness self-reporting form on Jan. 9, following the increasing number of residents, including tourists, who were admitted to hospitals in Baguio due to gastroenteritis.

Mayor Benjamin Ma-galong, on Jan. 10, has announced an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis in the city.

At a press conference, Magalong said 80 establishments were identified as the places where the patients dined and 60 percent were located at SM Baguio.

SM City Baguio, in a statement, said it is taking proactive measures to ensure the safety of its stakeholders.

The mall said it had collaborated with the CHSO and is wosrking with the tenants to temporarily serve mineral or bottled water to ensure public safety.

“With a strong commitment to safety and sanitation, SM City Baguio will always prioritize the well-being of its customers, business partners and employees,” the SM statement read.

Aside from dining in food establishments, the CHSO dashboard showed 13.2 percent of the patients reported having ordered take-out food, 11.2 percent ate home-cooked meals, and 12.1 percent had other circumstances.

The data also showed 294 patients were from outside Baguio while 204 were from neighboring towns, 128 patients were from Bakakeng Norte 128 from Irisan, 124 from Camp 7, 101 from unspecified locations, and the rest were from other barangays.

The data varies as reports to the CHSO self-reporting system kept coming in as of press time.     

Magalong has ordered an intensified testing of water sources in its effort to determine the cause of the health concern. He also tapped the Baguio City Police Office to help in the investigation.

City Health Officer Celia Flor Brillantes has confirmed that one sample from an establishment tested positive for bacterial contamination.

As of 10 p.m. Jan. 10, there were 28 water samples submitted for testing of which 16 samples tested negative for thermotolerant coliform organism and will be subjected to viral testing at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Brillantes said that based on the reports received, the majority of the cases occurred from Jan. 2 to 8.

Of the total number of cases on Jan. 12, there were 609 who sought consultation in health facilities.

Food establishments had been advised to refrain from serving tap and filtered water and serve only purified water.

Households were also told to drink purified water or boil tap water for their safety.

Magalong has also warned establishments to avoid taking advantage of the situation by increasing the prices of bottled water.