BAGUIO

Baguio City down to 19,000 test kits

IN THE thick of a second wave of infections, Baguio City on August 6 recorded its fourth coronavirus disease (Covid-19) death when a 65-year-old male from Irisan barangay succumbed to the disease.

A day after the death, on August 7, Friday, five new cases were reported. These include a 43-year-old male from Salud Mitra, 74-year-old female from Queen of Peace, an eight-year-old male from MRR Queen of Peace, a 29-year-old female from Gibraltar and a 25-year-old male from New Lucban.

As of noon Friday, August 7, there were 79 active Covid-19 cases in the city and four deaths, as reported by the City Public Information Office.

Mayor Benjie Magalong said the new cases were a result of contact tracing being done in the city, with lockdowns implemented in 24 barangays with confirmed positive cases, including close contacts.

A disinfection of the city seat of power has been ongoing after three employees tested positive for the virus.

The PFVR gym, where outgoing travel documents is being processed, was also shut down until next week, as contact tracing and disinfection are being done in the area of work of three government staffers who are now coronavirus-positive.

As the cases surge, the city is again faced with the problem on the dwindling supply of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain React Test (RT-PCR) test kits.

City Health Services Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said from the 40,000 kits procured by the mayor, the city is now down to 19,000, not much if the surge in cases continues.

Magalong said that for now, the city will have to manage the remaining kits while he tries to obtain more. But if the City decides to continue its risk-based mass testing to identify more carriers, then it may have to resort to a purchase, albeit it will have to wait for the cheapest lot to save on cost.

The mayor said purchasing test kits will not be sustainable because the City has to manage its resources amid the health crisis.

"We cannot go on testing forever especially since we know that this crisis might last until the end of 2021," Magalong said.

He said despite the meager test kits, he might have to resort to zonal lockdown or quarantine system where in the event of clustering of cases, the entire barangay or purok will be declared as critical spot and will be put on a lockdown and residents on quarantine for 14 days.

"It's either we test them or quarantine them for two weeks," he said.

At present, the city conducts an average of 462 RDT tests and 75 RDT per day.

As of August 4, it has undertaken a total of 33,970 PCR and RDT tests, which the mayor said is already high when compared to the other cities and even regions.

The past weeks, an expanded testing has been conducted by the city from various sectors of the community.

But one problem is that the test is only "good as the day a person was tested" because he remains vulnerable to the virus even after testing negative of it, the mayor added. (With a report from Baguio City Public Information Office)


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