Baguio City’s border restriction to beef up COVID-19 testing, control systems

Published November 22, 2020, 1:13 PM

by Zaldy Comanda

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the strict control measures being implemented at borders with the neighboring municipalities of La Trinidad, Tuba, Tublay and Sablan will scale up coronavirus disease (COVID-19) control measures. including the testing capacity and pinpointing of at-risk sectors in these towns for better disease management.

Benjamin Magalong (JJ Landingin / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Mayor Benjamin Magalong (JJ Landingin / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Magalong issued an advisory dated Nov.19 temporarily restricting the access in these towns for 14 days from November 21 to December 4. 

He explained the advisory was made after health authorities expressed concern over the rise in the number of severe cases in the previous weeks, prompting public and private health practitioners to seek enforcement of stringent restrictions to the extent of proposing a “two-week timeout” in the city to prevent the further spread of the virus, especially among the vulnerable sectors.

The health sector also pushed for the implementation of strict border controls for La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (LISTT) residents aside from the immediate roll out of inspection teams, which will monitor compliance with minimum public health standards.

Magalong convinced the medical community that a two-week timeout would not be tenable due to economic reasons, but agreed that restrictions could be implemented.

While COVID-19 cases in Baguio are relatively higher compared to the nearby municipalities, Magalong said the border restriction was meant to mitigate the spread of infection by limiting inter-municipal movement.

He explained that the restricted access will also give time for the LGUs to implement expanded testing for them to determine COVID-19 hotspots, and assess effectivity of current response measures.

Magalong said that, during the meeting with health experts, the medical sector also recommended the limited movement of persons above 65 years old, and those with co-morbidities.

Magalong issued Executive Order No. 170, series of 2020, implementing strict stay-at-home restrictions for persons over the age of 65, except for work, medical purposes and to purchase necessary goods or access necessary services and that they have no other non-high risk relatives and acquaintances to assist them.

Dr. Thea Pamela Cajulao, head of the infection prevention and control division of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), stated that the continuous increase in the number of severe and critical cases being confined in the hospital was alarming, and that the strict adherence of the people to the prescribed minimum health and safety protocols was needed.

Cajulao explained that severe cases were those with co-morbidities, such as hypertension, diabetes, among other illnesses, while critical cases were those with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, kidney ailments, among others, and those that already need the aid of mechanical ventilators and high flow oxygen machines to breath.

With a few more days before the end of November, the BGHMC already recorded 20 severe and six critical patients that have been confined in the government health facility.