City execs tackle Covid-19 situation, response

The City Management Committee (MANCOM) led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong in its weekly meeting Sept. 7 tackled Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) developments and countermeasures being carried out to address the current spike in cases believed to be caused by the Delta variant.

City Health Services Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo reported that the number of active cases has doubled in the last two weeks with an average of 1-2 deaths per day.

The city posted a single day high number of cases at 205 last Sept. 5.  Its highest on record was 227 logged on April 2, 2021.

Positivity rate hiked in the last four weeks from 7.4 percent in the first week of August to 14.04 percent in the first week of this month.  In the past two weeks,  it was pegged at 15.77 percent.

The city’s risk classification has been elevated to Alert Level 4 or high to critical level because of its increased Average Daily Attack Rate (ADAR), Two-Week Growth Rate (TWGR) and Critical Care Utilization Rate (CCUR).

Mayor Magalong said this was not surprising as they had anticipated the surge to happen because of the Delta variant.
As a response, the city is carrying out the following measures:

Addressing the overwhelmed health care system by increasing and upgrading stepdown and isolation facilities, allowing home isolation for specific patients and augmenting manpower of hospitals;

  • Continuing active case detection.  Barangay Health Emergency Teams (BHERTs) to locate and monitor symptomatic patients;
  • Continuing genome sequencing and securing samples from priority areas;
  • Sustaining aggressive community testing and antigen testing in areas with Delta cases. The average daily tests done for the last two weeks was 679.  It has done a total of 239,354 tests and has tested 150,074 individuals or 40.07 percent of the population. The city also set up fixed testing sites at the Baguio Convention Center and the different district health centers exclusively for close contacts of positive cases, whether symptomatic or not.  Those who have access to private vehicles can drive by to have themselves tested.  But home swab tests will continue to be done for close contacts who have mobility issues or have no access to private transport;
  • Sustaining quality of treatment by immediately adding or converting ICU beds and equipment and prioritizing active cases. Hospitals in the city have stopped accepting non-COVID-19 and elective surgery cases and expressed willingness to expand if not for lack of manpower.  The city stepped in by hiring 30 nurses to be assigned to them. City also upgraded its stepdown facilities to accommodate moderate but stable patients.  It had sought the assistance of the Baguio-Benguet Medical Society and other specialty groups to help in the management of patients;
  • On its vaccination efforts, the city is now working on reprioritizing vaccine deployment to hasten vaccination in areas with increasing cases.

As a proactive measure against the Delta variant, the city readied a contingency plan using the Dept. of Health’s Four-Door Strategy where controls are put into place at the point of origin through travel bans and restrictions; at points of entry through screening, quarantine and testing; at points of care by implementing the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate strategy; and management of an epidemic surge through strict community health protocols.- Aileen P. Refuerzo