Issue of July 25, 2021
Mt. Province

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City speeds up contingencies vs COVID-19 Delta variant
by Aileen P. Refuerzo / PIO

Mayor Benjamin Magalong sought hastening of the contingency measures against the more virulent Delta variant of the Covid-19 as more cases were recorded in Manila and other parts of the country.

On July 20, Magalong directed a follow-through on the city’s action plan presented during the meeting of the local Inter-Agency Task Force on July 16.

“While we have begun implementing some of the strategies in the past two to three weeks, we need to prepare adequately. The latest we heard is that the impact of the Delta variant in Indonesia is catastrophic,” the mayor said.

City Health Officer Rowena Galpo said the city needs to prepare for the worst-case scenario judging from the variant’s huge effects in neighboring countries Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, which posted record high number of cases at 480,000, 108,000, and 103,000 respectively.

The city’s contingency plan includes the following:

Stricter border control covering all entry and exit checkpoints, triage including test requirement. The city has recently imposed RT-PCR test for tourists aged 17 years old and below and unvaccinated adults aged over 65. The mayor also sought strengthening inter-local government unit police collaboration. Monitoring of arrivals will also be intensified;

Strict completion of quarantine or isolation of returning overseas Filipinos in a facility, especially those coming from high risk countries;

Intensify vaccination efforts by seeking out vulnerable groups like senior citizens and people with co-morbidity who are still hesitant, fast-tracking of second dose, continuation of the mobile vaccination in barangays and setting up of more vaccination sites, and hiring of additional vaccinators. Barangays were tasked to work out the identification and convincing of susceptible persons to undergo vaccination otherwise they would have to explain in case a vulnerable constituent dies unvaccinated. They were given until July 23 to submit a survey of unvaccinated seniors and persons with underlying conditions;

Monitoring of compliance with the minimum public health standards by suspending activities that do not strictly comply with the MPHS, conducting regular and random inspection of business establishments, monitoring of public places even in the barangay level and limiting mass gatherings;

Enhance contact tracing by partnering with the private sector through the business process outsourcing and companies with large manpower to help out in contact tracing operations. The city is working out the hiring of additional contact tracers with the end of contract of national government-paid contact tracers. It has trained contact tracers from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority locators. The Baguio City Police Office has also designated additional contact trainers to augment the city’s teams;

Ramp up targeted testing with the help of the private sector;

Prepare more isolation and quarantine facilities and maintain strict implementation of isolation and quarantine policies for active cases and facility-based isolation;

Impose granular lockdowns over puroks with critical clusters and those with low compliance with minimum public health standards;

Strengthen case referral and navigation system through the Baguio One Hospital Command;

Ensure adequate critical equipment, medicines, and supplies like oxygen, oxygen tanks, concentrators and oxygenerators, personal protective equipment, disinfectants, and others. Hospitals and city-run facilities have submitted their inventories and the mayor directed them to speed up stockpiling of these supplies to prepare for increased hospitalizations due to the variant’s more infectious and more severe nature. A disinfectant machine has been set up by the city government to ensure steady supply of hypochlorous acid to be provided free of charge to hospitals and facilities;
Address mental health and wellness of frontliners; and

Other strategies include control in use and sale of liquor and monitoring and adoption of alternative work arrangement.

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