AT THE peak of tourist arrivals, Baguio City has once again landed on the list of areas of concern by an independent research group for a steady increase in coronavirus infections.
Octa Research listed Baguio City together with Santiago and Ilagan (Isabela), La Trinidad (Benguet), Cainta (Rizal), Batangas City (Batangas), Makati, San Juan, Marikina, Quezon City, Malabon and Taguig as areas of concern.
The city is also seventh for cities and municipalities with the highest number of new cases per day with 39 cases logged from December 6 to 12 and 24 cases a day listed for the period of December 13 t0 19.
Baguio has an attack rate of 8.4 percent and a hospital occupancy rate of 72 percent.
As infections are steady, 5,748 tourists are expected to arrive in the city in the next two weeks (December 18 to 31), according to supervising tourism operations officer Aloysius Mapalo, with the highest number of arrival possibly happening December 23 with 843 and on December 24 with 836, while the highest accumulated number of tourists inside the city is expected on December 26 at 3,236.
The city has increased its daily limit of tourist arrivals to 1,000 this month. All of them had to satisfy the requirements for health and safety protocols, which include undergoing tests for Covid-19.
Benguet Province stood at fifth spot under regions and provinces with the highest number of new cases per day, logging in 92 from December 6 to 12 while there were 52 from the period of December 13 to 19 with an eight percent positivity rate.
The town of Manakayan in Benguet stands at 24th with 33 cases logged from December 6 to 12 and 11 cases a day listed for the period of December 13 t0 19, while La Trinidad for the same period recorded 12 and 10 cases a day, respectively.
"In areas of concern in the NCR and around the country identified in this report, we urge the local government units (LGUs) concerned to further intensify their efforts at testing, tracing, and isolation to reverse the increase in transmissions in their communities. The identified high-risk LGUs, the implementation of more aggressive and effective localized lockdowns with stricter border controls are urgently needed to suppress further viral transmissions," the Octa Team said.
The team of researchers added that effective and stricter border controls must be in place to mitigate Covid-19 transmissions within and between provinces.
Together with more effective screening and other controls in our ports and airports, this will be crucial to supporting the government's plans to expand domestic as well international travel in the country, it said.
"While we must and we will celebrate Christmas, we should do so safely and responsibly, not just to ensure our own safety and wellbeing, but that of our families and our community. During this new normal Christmas, we must all continue our vigilance and be mindful, never to be complacent and overconfident as the virus is still here and is very much a clear and present danger to us all," added Octa.