By Zaldy Comanda
BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Benjamin Magalong ordered the strengthening of the city’s contact tracing system to help arrest the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Magalong authorized the conduct of contact tracing of presumptive cases even ahead of confirmation from the Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM).
“We have to expedite early contact tracing to prevent those persons from infecting others. We should not wait for the confirmatory tests which take days because by that time it will be too late,” Magalong said.
He said the City Health Services Office contact tracing teams, led by the City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit under Dr. Donnabel Panes, have been beefed up with the inclusion of investigators from the Baguio City Police Office to tap their expertise in aiding patients to recall their whereabouts and the people they were with.
As of March 23, the Baguio City Health Services Office in their COVID-19 Monitoring Bulletin has already recorded one COVID-19 death – a 55-year-old female government employee.
The confirmed COVID-19 cases were that of a 61-year-old female overseas worker; 52- year-old woman from Ortigas in Metro Manila; and a 55-year-old male from Makati City.
The presumptive cases waiting for the results of their tests for COVID-19 were a 31-year-old man working in Makati, a 49-year-old male bus driver from Baguio, and a 23-year- old man working in Ortigas.
Persons under investigation (PUIs) on home isolation numbered 259, PUIs admitted at hospitals, 21; and persons under monitoring (PUMs) on 14-day quarantine, 1,847. PUMs who have already completed quarantine number 425.
Magalong ordered on Wednesday barangay officials to escalate in the next 14 days the enforcement of enhanced community quarantine in Loakan Proper, Loakan Liwanag, Loakan Apugan, Fort Del Pilar, Kias and Atok Trail amidst report that two of those that turned positive with COVID-19 were from Loakan and Fort Del Pilar.
He also directed the City Management and Information Technology Division to develop a computer program as data base for patients and their contacts. The present contact tracing system is working well so far but there were gaps identified and are now being addressed to make it more effective.
Magalong ordered on Wednesday, March 15, the lockdown of Barangay Pinget after barangay officials failed to correct their haphazard implementation of the enhanced community quarantine measures.
“We found out that some residents continue to loiter around and do not adhere to the prescribed physical distancing,” he said.
“I thought that after getting a warning they learned their lesson because they showed improvement when I visited them last weekend however they did not sustain it.”
City Police Director Allen Ray Co said they implemented the lockout starting 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We established checkpoints in all the entry and exit points of the barangay and no one will be allowed to leave or get in except the critical establishment workers,” Co said.