Baguio City

Still halfway through, September already Baguio’s most severe COVID-19 month

Frank Cimatu
Still halfway through, September already Baguio’s most severe COVID-19 month

Trancoville Barangay officials disinfectors: Kagawad Arturo "Jhony" frias Jr. and Chief Tanod Fred Mendoza and father Benedict Villapa of St. John Bosco Parish in Baguio city conducts cleaning and disinfection of the church and surrounding areas as part of the regular maintenance to ensure the safety of church goers and visitors. PHOTOS BY MAU VICTA/Rappler

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong says the Delta variant 'is now defining the fundamentals of the COVID-19 fight'

September is still halfway through and Baguio is also halfway through a COVID-19 nightmare.

Not only did the active cases reach more than 2,000, but the number of daily cases far overshadowed the recovery rate.

This is also the deadliest month since Baguio recorded its first COVID-19 related death in March 2020.

From September 1 to 16, Baguio recorded 69 deaths. The deadliest was on September 15 when it tallied 12 deaths. The day before, it listed ten cases and on September 12 and 13, it counted seven cases a day.

The 69 deaths were already 15% of all casualties recorded in Baguio since March 2020. As of September 16, Baguio recorded 412 COVID deaths.

The worst surge before this was last April 2021 when Baguio totaled 48 deaths in the whole month. The 69 recorded this month is only till September 16.

Baguio has recorded 3,233 cases so far this month. The highest total was on September 11 when it recorded 289 and on September 14 when it reached 280.

Since September 9 till 16, Baguio recorded more than 200 cases a day. The only day that it didn’t reach 200 was on September 4 when it got 96 cases.

The average cases were more than 202 per day on the 16-day period.

Prior to this month, Baguio was maintaining an active COVID total of about 1,000. It reached 2,044 on September 11.

The recoveries were slow and few with only 1,333 in that period. Its average recovery was only 88.625 cases a day.

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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 caused this surge.

From September 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%.

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 September 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% (from 19%), 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 that previously showed linear movement now reflect exponential rise. Moreover, statistics showed that the behavior of the surge was 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 (there are more) Delta even if we only have 13 official ones. Besides, pumapalo ang cases natin (we are hitting) 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 (even in cases not yet passing genome sequence, we assume the are Delta variants) ,” Panes said.

Panes said they also observed an extraordinary increase in unlinked cases or patients who had no link with known previous COVID-19 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. (This means we do not where the infections are coming from, and who is infectious?)

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 a 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 the same time and space will now be considered close contacts.

Panes said the city could 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. –