4 more Baguio City medical frontliners test positive for coronavirus

BAGUIO, Philippines –  Four more medical frontliners from the Baguio General Hospital (BGH) tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, April 26, after the city began its mass testing Friday, April 24.

This brought to 8 the number of BGH health workers who have tested positive in the past 2 days.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong said that a 61-year-old doctor, a 27-year-old nurse, and 2 female nursing attendants, both 34, all tested positive under the real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) confirmatory tests.

The barangays (villages) where 3 of the 4 patients reside – BGH Compound, Camp 8 and Sto. Nino Road Bakakeng Central – will be put on lockdown for contact tracing and disinfection, Magalong said.

The nurse is from Wangal, La Trinidad.

Last Saturday,  2 doctors, a nurse, and a hospital attendant, all working in BGH, have tested positive. Three other Baguio residents, including an 8-day-old girl, and a balikbayan from the United States who is staying in La Trinidad, also tested positive.

There are now 15 Baguio residents who are hospitalized for the coronavirus disease. Benguet has 3 positive cases.

City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said that the city expanded its RT-PCR testing to include those seemingly asymptomatic but who fall under the categories fit for risk-based testing.

From only one PCR machine since the past week, Baguio now has 4 machines with 2 donated by the JV Ongpin Foundation and Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan. Two are working while the other 2 are being calibrated.

BGH, which is using RT-PCR for Northern Luzon, has so far tested more than 4,100 individuals and has less than 3,000 test kits left, most of which were donated by private entities.

Despite this, BGH is third in testing the most number of individuals, next only to the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the Lung Center of the Philippines.

Galpo said that they expect more cases to surface as BGH have been performing 200 tests a day since April 27 and hopefully, until May 15.

The risk-based testing enables the locality to seek out those infected not only from the pool of suspected ones who manifest symptoms but also from probable cases who are asymptomatic. 

This enables early detection, leading to the prevention of the transmission of the virus, Galpo said.

Magalong said that without mass testing, the city cannot determine its true situation in terms of the  extent of the contagion.

"We have local transmissions, of which source remains unascertain, so I am not comfortable. If you ask me if it is true that we only have 18 cases, I don't think so," he said.

Of the 4 health workers who tested positive on Saturday, 2 divulged their identities to expedite contact tracing. (READ: In Baguio, coronavirus cases name themselves to warn others)

Herwin Siong, the 34-year-old nurse, and Paola Ortiz, a 28-year-old encoder, said that they wanted those they met to either go into self-quarantine or go to a hospital should they manifest symptoms. – Rappler.com