December 8, 2022

COVID-19: A BATTLE FAR FROM OVER

The decision of the city government to suspend the conduct of the market day at Session Road every Sunday has been hailed foremost by health authorities, as it could help in the government’s response against the surging cases of Covid-19 aggravated by the Omicron variant.
Yet the night market on Harrison Road is allowed to continue.
The policy seems of double standard as stalls at the night market are more closely situated to each other aside from the glaring fact that it attracts a huge number of residents and tourists who are currently allowed into the city.
If concerned officials are diligent in reading comments and feedbacks from the mainstream and social media concerning policies being issued such as the suspension of the Session Road market, they should have noticed that the number of questions on why the night market was spared from the policy is overwhelming.
True enough, we acknowledge that in this time of a prolonged pandemic that has pushed billions of people to poverty worldwide, no one and no family should go hungry and this is why every local government unit is aggressive in providing opportunities for their constituents to earn a living.
But if the wisdom behind the suspension of the Session Road Sunday market is to stem the local transmission of Covid-19, then the city might as well consider suspending the night market, unless it has devised protocols or guidelines to keep the virus at bay while allowing socio-economic activities along Harrison Road. But then again, what is at Harrison Road that is not present at Session Road in terms of suppressing local transmission?
Be that as it may, the suspension of Session Road market remains a wise decision on the part of the city and the organizers.
This is not the first time the city government is being alleged of imposing double standard policies since the pandemic started when well-known politicians and other personalities were allowed entry to the city without complying with border control requirements imposing strict protocols among residents of outlying towns of Benguet crossing the city borders.
As a model LGU for contact tracing to vaccination, the city must also show consistency in its policies and guidelines especially in this time when there is a remarkable increase in Covid cases despite reaching 100 percent full vaccination rate among its eligible population.
Even with 96 percent full vaccination and over 60,000 individuals having already received their booster shots, the daily Covid-19 cases since Jan. 13 this year have reached more than 500, surpassing the earlier projection of 400 to 500 cases daily, which health and local authorities have attributed to the entry of the Omicron variant in the localities.
The daily number of new Covid-19 cases is a manifestation that there is more to be done to achieve herd immunity or population protection even after 70 percent of eligible population in each LGU has been fully vaccinated. By some indications and the flu season in our midst, high Covid-19 cases in the locality are here to stay even after Baguio has fully vaccinated the more than 281,000 eligible population.
But the city government must not back down and must sustain the gains of its contact tracing and mass vaccination programs. It is our hope that the city mayor’s pronouncement that 2022 would be a banner year for Baguio’s recovery will hold water, as we have suffered enough since 2020.
But most of all, it must sustain policies that are inclusive and not exempt sectors, groups, and individuals in this time of pandemic.

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