Baguio seeks to keep city under COVID-19 Alert Level 3

Mico Abarro, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2022 05:12 PM | Updated as of Jan 28 2022 10:03 PM

Burnham Park in Baguio City. April 15, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Burnham Park in Baguio City. April 15, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong recommended on Friday that the area remain under COVID-19 Alert Level 3, to avoid the risk of a surge due to opening up too early. 

Magalong said during a public briefing that the city's current alert level gave authorities the flexibility to respond to COVID-19. 

"Ang pinaka-mahirap na sitwasyon is when you open too early. Matapos saka naman tataas yung kaso. Yun ang iniiwasan namin," Magalong said. 

"Mabuti na rin yung Alert Level 3 kami kasi meron namang prerogative ang LGU na i-manage at maging flexible siya sa ganong sitwasyon. Opening our economy, opening our tourism industry, and at the same time madali yung paghihigpit." 

(The toughest situation to deal with is when you open too early. After that, cases will go up. That's what we're trying to avoid. Under Alert Level 3, the Local Government Unit has the prerogative to manage and be flexible with situations. Opening our economy, opening our tourism, while at the same time making it easy to tighten restrictions.) 

Magalong said that there are 3,022 active COVID-19 cases in Baguio City, down from a peak of almost 4,900. Meanwhile, the city's 7-day moving average of daily number of cases is at 421, down from 587. Testing had also gone down as well. 

The mayor said COVID-19 cases in the city were already plateauing, and they were expected to go into a downtrend by the second week of February. 

Meanwhile, Magalong said that the city's contact tracers were facing difficulties in carrying out their jobs. He explained that during a surge in cases fueled by the omicron variant, a contact tracer would have to process 30 to 40 cases a day. To conduct quality contact tracing, a tracer was supposed to handle 4 to 5 cases a day. 

"Can you just imagine yung challenge to process 30 to 40 cases a day? That is impossible. Very very impossible," the mayor said. 

(Can you just imagine the challenge to process 30 to 40 cases a day? That is impossible. Very very impossible.)

Magalong added that contact tracing grew more difficult after the government did not extend the services of 16,000 contact tracers hired by the Department of Interior and Local Government. 

"Kaya umaasa tayo ngayon sa mga uniformed services," he said. 

To prevent contact tracers from being overwhelmed, the mayor recommended to the DILG to have tracers concentrate on the first level generation of a case's contacts. 

Last week, Baguio City posted a record 725 new COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, it recorded 355 new infections.

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