Baguio’s reaching new highs in Covid cases points to Delta presence

17 September 2021 – Baguio City is experiencing new highs in Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and this points not only to the presence but also the active transmission of the more contagious and virulent Delta variant.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong and City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said that based on the data and circumstances obtaining in the city, the Delta variant appeared to have displaced the other variants in dominance in the city.

From Sept. 7-14, the city’s average daily number of cases had reached 240, and the number of barangays with positive cases had gone up to 119 out of 128 or 92.25 percent.

Since the start of the surge in the last week of August, the city has breached the 20,000 mark and posted a new single day record of 289 cases last Sept. 11. 

Galpo said the average daily attack rate and the two-week growth rate also climbed sharply at 35.3 (from 20.7) and 44 percent (from 19 percent), respectively.

The number of deaths also increased to 2-3 a day and had surpassed the daily average posted in April at the height of the Alpha and Beta surge.

Magalong said graphs which previously showed linear movement now reflect exponential rise.  Moreover, statistics showed that the behavior of the surge is defying some conventions.

“We were expecting that with the restrictions we adopted to limit the mobility of people, we could realize a downtrend by this time but on the contrary, it continued to increase.  By that we can see that this variant is now defining the fundamentals of the COVID-19 fight,” the mayor said.

He said transmissions are now actively happening within homes and workplaces.

At present, the city has a total of 20 Delta variant cases identified by the Philippine Genome Center but since the PCG’s findings were not diagnostic but only for surveillance purposes, the city can expect more Delta cases in its midst, according to City Epidemiologist Dr. Donnabel Panes.

Link analysis and contact tracing of the first 13 Delta cases yielded a total of 732 linked patients.

“Based on the number of linked patients, we can assume na marami na ang Delta even if we only have 13 official ones.  Besides, pumapalo ang cases natin in levels that we didn’t see even when we had Alpha and Beta indicative of Delta which is notorious in transmission kaya yung mga cases na hindi na-genome sequence, we can assume na Delta na sila ,” Panes said.

Panes said they also observed an extraordinary increase in unlinked cases or patients who had no link with known previous COVID positives which indicates active transmission going in the community.

“Ang ibig sabihin po nito, hindi na natin alam ngayon kung saan nanggagaling at sino ang ang nakakahawa,” she said.

Lead contact tracing team data analyst Mischelle Junio said data also showed how pervasive Delta is.

“Before, only one or two members get infected by the patient but now, almost everyone in the family get it including even the young ones.  The same thing happens in workplaces, but worse, these workers bring the virus home to their own families and this is why our cases double or even triple,” Junio said.

Delta also defied the earlier established classification standards for contacts because before close contacts can only be declared as such if they have close encounter with patients within 15 or more minutes.  Now, Delta transcended the boundaries and time so that all persons who had encounters with the patient in same time and space will now be considered close contacts.

Panes said the city can expect the surge to last depending on the control measures being implemented and the level of compliance to the minimum public health standards.

“The virus is just waiting for the perfect time for us to let our guards down.  Our efforts must be done both on the personal and collective levels for us to win over the virus,” she said. – Aileen P. Refuerzo