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BAGUIO, Philippines – Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong declared a gastroenteritis outbreak in the city on Wednesday, January 10.
Magalong announced this during a press briefing, where he outlined a series of actions to mitigate the outbreak.
“To the citizens and visitors of Baguio City, rest assured that we are doing everything to control the outbreak. Magtiwala lang po kayo sa amin. Hindi po kami natutulog (Trust us. We will not rest),” he said.
Magalong said authorities will determine the source of the outbreak to address the problem in coordination with other local government units, especially in the BLISTT (Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, Tublay) area.
Magalong ordered a comprehensive testing of water sources, including those of water delivery companies and deep wells.
The Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) will assist the City Health Service Office and the Baguio Water District in an expedited data gathering and water testing operation.
As of 4 pm on Wednesday, the City Health Services Office (CHSO) recorded 1,761 self-reported cases of gastroenteritis. Dr. Donabel Tubera-Panes of the City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit said that 20% of these cases have sought medical consultation. The City’s QR code system facilitated the self-reporting process.
The outbreak has affected 218 establishments and 80 households. Eighty of the establishments are located in SM Baguio, 134 in other Baguio establishments, and 4 in La Trinidad.
Tourists have also been affected, with some requiring hospitalization, city officials said.
Magalong assured the public of the city’s readiness to provide medical assistance in coordination with the Baguio General Hospital.
As a preventive measure, food establishments have been advised against serving tap and filtered water, and to serve purified water instead. Households have been instructed to use either purified or boiled tap water.
Dr. Celia Flor Brillantes, the acting City Health Services Officer, emphasized the importance of recognizing gastroenteritis symptoms, which include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, and in some cases, bloody stools.
Brillantes also stressed the significance of proper hand hygiene, recommending washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The outbreak is not confined to Baguio City, with reports also emerging from La Trinidad and Itogon in Benguet. Magalong has indicated plans for consultations with the LISTT (La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, Tublay) to address the broader impact of the outbreak.
In a statement, SM City Baguio outlined its commitment to safety and sanitation, highlighting its collaboration with the local City Health Office for comprehensive water testing and its temporary shift to serving mineral or bottled water.
Magalong convened an emergency health team to craft a strategic response. This includes rapid testing using Total Dissolved Solid (TDS) testers among the affected establishments and households, followed by confirmatory microbial analyses for positive cases.
The Baguio Water District is also conducting tests on its 67 water sources.
Sanitary orders have been issued to the most affected establishments, mandating extensive clean-up and retesting before resuming operations. All food establishments, regardless of reported cases, have been directed to serve only purified water.
The Department of Health said on Thursday, January 11, that it will with with the Baguio City Government to address the outbreak.
– With reports from Kaycee Valmonte/Rappler.com