Members of the Covid-19 contact tracing team of Baguio are asking the public for proper appreciation of information, not panic, misinterpretation of facts, and belief in speculations, as cases continue to rise exponentially since August.
Compared to other areas that are only able to test an average of 30 people per week, Baguio conducts an average of 200 tests daily and contact tracers are able to meet the target of tracing 70 percent of contacts of a positive case in 24 hours.
“Baguio City has the luxury of conducting (more) tests compared to other regions,” said Mischelle Junio, a data analyst of the Baguio contact tracing team.
The University of the Philippines Octa Research Group has recently classified Baguio and 17 other local governments in the country as “high risk” due to high daily case load, attack rate, or high hospitalization occupancy.
But Junio said the advantage of having a high testing rate is that the concerned LGU is able to get a real picture of the situation and authorities can implement the protocol of tracing, testing, isolating, and treating.
In other areas where there is a low testing capacity, there may be individuals with the SARS-CoV2 who walk around undetected and could potentially infect others.
Baguio logs an average of 40 cases daily, according to information system analyst Francis Camarao. But data also shows that those who get infected have a high recovery rate. Of the total 2,546 cases, 1,894 have recovered.
He said cases are still manageable and facilities of the city government are able to cope with the surge.
Out of the total cases, 65 percent were detected through contact tracing, 16 percent through expanded testing, 12 percent were symptomatic or those who sought consultation or testing for manifesting symptoms of the Covid-19, and seven percent were due to “other reasons” or those who underwent testing as requirement for employment or surgery, among other reasons.
Being able to trace as much people in the shortest time possible means those who might have been infected can be immediately contained and the potential spread of the virus is stopped, added Lt/Col. Max Sumeg-ang, leader of the 700-member Baguio contact tracing team.
“Kapag may napalampas sa contact tracing, tendency is sila (undetected contacts) ‘yung mag-spread ng virus kaya dapat mabilis at efficient,” Sumeg-ang said.
The Baguio contact tracing teams include policemen who are trained on cognitive interviewing – a questioning technique used by the police to enhance retrieval of information from a victim’s or eyewitnesses’ memory.
The contact tracing team is also able to determine the two common modes of clustering of cases in Baguio: drinking sessions using the same glass and sharing of utensils.
Compared to the first cases, which were traced to have been acquired from areas where there was a high rate of cases, current cases have been spreading in households and in barracks.
“Yung virus ay nag-spread na sa mga kabahayan at sa mga workplaces,” Junio said, citing the clustering of cases among construction workers, security guards, police trainees, in dorms, and the Baguio City Jail where people stay in common sleeping quarters.
“Kung ayaw n’yong tumaas ang cases, huwag tayong mag-test,” Junio said, but explained that although there is a spike in cases, what is important is they are able to trace, isolate, and treat those who are infected to stop spread of the virus.
The contact tracing team continues to remind the public to adhere to health protocols, not only for personal protection but also to protect others.
“Let us treat each one as a carrier. Never forget the health protocols. Maaari tayong ma-infect pero hindi natin kailangan mang-infect ng ibang tao,” Junio said. – Rimaliza A. Opiña