REMEMBER how the New Year was last year? We had a dip in COVID cases at the start of 2022 and we swung open our gates to tourists.
Two weeks later, we were on the third surge, this time from the infectious Omicron variant and with almost 7,000 cases daily by the end of January 2022.
We are again at the nadir of the COVID cycle but there is the threat of a new sub-variant dubbed as XBB which is surging in China.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong is now asking Baguio residents not to panic.
But the annual Lunar New Year is expected to start in the third week as January 22 is the New Year of the Rabbit. Millions of tourists from China are expected to leave the country even as around 800 million are expected to be infected by COVID during the winter.
Magalong said that Baguio residents would just have to brace themselves from the possible XBB invasion.
He expressed confidence that Baguio residents are vaccinated, with first and second boosters, following health protocols; handwashing, physical distancing and masking up properly, against the impending spread of COVID sub-variants.
The mayor said that in an earlier meeting with the Department of Health (DOH) Officer in Charge (OIC) Ma. Rosario Vergeire, he asked about the threat or impact of said COVID-19 subvariant on the country.
DOH OIC Vergeire confided that the COVID virus variant has been monitored to be in the country since July, Mayor Magalong said.
According to the mayor, a surge was earlier pegged to happen in the third week of January but analytics from third-party data experts have forecasted it for the second week instead. The increase is not expected to be as steep as the Delta or Omicron experience, but just an upward trend then a tapering off.
Data from experts provide us with unbiased and unmanipulated forecasts, the mayor said.
We have also always been transparent with COVID-19 information and that infections/re-infections, deaths, recoveries, vaccination, and booster shots have always been reported properly, he added.
This optimism from the mayor was in contrast to last month when he said he was alarmed by the increase in deaths among unvaccinated and unboosted individuals in the city.
The City Health Services Office’s City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit said that COVID-19 death incidents tripled from October to November and the fatalities were either unvaccinated or unboosted. Data from Baguio City Health Services Department and the University of the Philippines Baguio showed that nine out of 10 COVID deaths in the city from December 2021 to the present were among those also not vaccinated or have not received supplementary shots.
The mayor said these data once again prove the importance of vaccines in preventing severe disease and deaths due to COVID-19.
Ramped up vaccination and booster shots, with daily schedules in the 16 district health centers and announced big venues areas are always available, he added. Schedules for vaccine shots are available for five years old; six to 11 y/o; 12-17 y/o; 18 and above and first and second booster shots, as seen in the Baguio City Health Services Office Facebook account. – with reports from Julie Fianza/PIO