BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Benjamin Magalong called on members of the city’s management committee to enforce the “hammer and dance” concept where there are times that the city has to tighten the implementation of the community quarantine protocols to reduce the number of cases, and ease the same when the cases are within tolerable limit.
Magalong said, the granular lockdowns in Puroks and Streets in barangays with confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases for the people in these areas to undergo the prescribed 14-day quarantine will also be implemented.
Magalong attributed the sudden surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city to the expanded targeted testing being aggressively undertaken by the City Health Services Office (CHSO) among the identified members of the different sectors.
He stated that health officers should appropriately manage the limited test kits available to the city to ensure the tests conducted will not go to waste.
Magalong appealed to city residents to remain calm and cooperative amid the continued surge in COVID-19 cases in the city.
"Our people do not have to be afraid. They just have to be careful. They have to make sure that they are aware of what is going on and that is the reason why we are very transparent by informing them every day about the new cases so they would know and be aware of what they have to do," Magalong said.
He assured that the city government knew what was happening on the ground, and was acting on it as the situation warrants.
He said the increased number of cases was a result of aggressive testing and contact tracing and the number is expected to continue to swell as COVID-19 response operations continue.
As of 9 a.m of August 9, the city has a total of 162 confirmed cases, 58 active, 99 recoveries with five deaths.
He also urged workers to avoid using common utensils for eating or drinking as this practice is now being looked into as a possible cause of the case outbreak in one sector.
"Please avoid sharing utensils. This would become part of our new normal practices including banning the use of a common shot glass in drinking sprees when we decide to lift the liquor ban again. Please do not revert to this dangerous practice," Magalong added.
City Health Officer Rowena Galpo reported that as of last week, the city performed over 25,000 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests and over 8,800 rapid diagnostic tests in the city, pursuant to the marching orders of the mayor for the testing of at least 10 percent of the city’s population to ascertain the degree of infection of the virus to the city’s residents.
Galpo said there were some 19,000 available RT-PCR test kits in the city for the aggressive implementation of the expanded targeted testing among the different sectors as banks operating in the city agreed to shoulder the expenses of the tests on their employees following a high positivity rate on the initial tests done on the workers in 23 banks.
Magalong urged institutions and residents who can afford to undergo the gold standard of COVID-19 test to undergo the required test for them to have their own peace of mind.
The newly established Park Way, a private molecular laboratory in the city located at Barangay Bakakeng Norte/Sur, can release the swab test results of individuals in nine to 12 hours that will ensure the timely release of test results and prevent people from suffering from anxiety while awaiting their test results.
Aside from the private laboratory, the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), the only accredited sub-national testing center in the Cordillera, and the Philippine Red Cross are also performing similar RT-PCR tests.