No lockdown but big activities remain postponed in city as region logs four n-CoV suspects
BAGUIO CITY– Mayor Benjamin Magalong Feb. 5 reiterated his pronouncement that the city is not on a lockdown and tourists are free to visit the city albeit government-sponsored events that would attract large crowds in the next three weeks or until Feb. 21 remain postponed as a proactive measure against the 2019 Novel Corona Virus (2019-nCoV).
This developed as the region logged four persons under investigation (PUIs) as of Feb. 6 with no confirmed cases and no death.
Dept. of Health Cordillera Center for Health and Development Officer-in-Charge Regional Director Dr. Amelita Pangilinan told the press briefing Feb. 7 that the patients, three of whom female and one male aged two, 27, 23 and 57 years old, are all presently stable and confined in an undisclosed health facility.
All are Filipinos and are not related to one another with two hailing from Benguet province, one from Baguio City, and one from Mountain Province.
All had history of travel to Hong Kong as tourists and all came to the health facility voluntarily.
Results of their confirmatory tests are still pending, according to Pangilinan.
Globally as of Feb. 6, there are 28,276 confirmed cases, 99.2 percent or 28,060 of which are in China. It killed 564 and affected 24 countries with 216 confirmed cases.
In the Philippines, there are three confirmed cases with one death and 178 persons under investigation.
With the new development, the mayor said he is studying the possibility of postponing the major Panagbenga events slated Feb. 29 and March 1 in consultation with the stakeholders considering that health authorities expect the situation to hold up for weeks more after Feb. 21.
The mayor Feb. 5 convened the newly created Inter-Agency Task Force tasked to monitor and implement guidelines and procedures for the containment of the disease and discussed updates and reviewed the plans of action and the steps taken so far.
He issued separate orders for the barangays to mobilize their barangay health emergency response teams to carry out preventive measures and information campaigns and for business establishments and service providers in the public transport sector to implement measures ensuring the sanitation of their facilities and observance of all DOH respiratory and hygiene protocols to prevent exposure and transmission of viruses.
Representatives of the Hotel and Restaurants Association of Baguio (HRAB) and the Baguio English Schools Association (BESA) assured they have taken preventive measures in accordance with the directives from the DOH including the close monitoring of foreigner students and guests.
The DOH-CAR under Pangilinan and the City Health Services Office under Dr. Rowena Galpo assured the continued capacity building of health personnel and incessant implementation of preventive measures by health centers in the barangays including continued engagement with the various sectors.
Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) Director Dr. Ricardo Runez assured the readiness of the hospital to handle cases but admitted limited facilities and manpower in case of a surge in cases.
He said the BGHMC is among the recipients of a machine that can verify the virus affliction within one hour although parallel testing at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) would still be required. The apparatus is expected to arrive within the week.
The Dept. of Education City Schools Division under Supt. Marie Caroline Verano also employed safety measures to protect students and faculty from the disease even as the DepEd Cordillera announced the suspension of the conduct of all national and regional events scheduled in February.
The mayor also instructed Galpo to work out with suppliers the procurement of more masks for the city’s populace.
Pangilinan said that in light of the development, the DOH is advising the public to be vigilant and mindful of personal hygiene and healthy lifestyle.
Those with travel history and symptoms were asked to seek medical attention and disclose correct information while those with common symptoms should stay at home to avoid infecting others.
The use of masks is encouraged but people should not overdo it. Those with cough and colds and are bound to stay in crowded places for long periods are advised to use surgical masks as the n95 sort is required among health workers and caregivers.
The mayor said the postponement of events applies to government-sponsored activities especially those that draw crowds from far places that would make contact-tracing impossible.
Exempted are activities of which participants are known and are from nearby provinces.
The discretion over private-led events is left to the organizers who are advised to prioritize the health and safety of their participants in view of the prevailing situation in the city in making their decisions.
The mayor assured that all decisions on the matter of the Novel Corona Virus are made after due consultations with health authorities and other sectors and in consideration of the developments in the international and national fronts.
“Our primordial concern is the health and safety of the general public. We simply have to make the city safe,” he said. ** Aileen P. Refuerzo