AFTER a long battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, Baguio City hit zero active cases of the disease last Tuesday. 

It was a brief victory, for the next day, there was one case and the next day another.

“While short-lived, it brought forth joy because it is the fruit of our more than two years of battle against the pandemic. It also bolstered our hope that we can overcome this scourge in time,” said Mayor Benjamin Magalong who had been at the forefront of the city’s fight against the virus.

   It was the first time since March 2020 that the city had a clean active case slate.  That day also marked the 30th day that the city had no COVID-19 death and third week that the city had zero severe or critical cases.

City Epidemiologist Dr. Donnabel Panes and University of the Philippines Baguio Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Prof. Rizavel Addawe whose teams had been keeping tabs and analyzing the city’s COVID-19 data were overjoyed.

  “Finally, Baguio City has 0 active cases as of April 19, 2022,” Addawe said in a social media post.

  “We have looked forward to this day… a day of zeros..even Zero death for 30 days… a milestone in our COVID-19 response.  We all have been part of making this happen… from scientists, researchers, government and private sectors, bashers, antis (and uncles), plantitos and plantitas, young and old (awan malabsan),” Panes said.

  Panes on Easter enumerated victories in the city’s COVID-19 fight: zero death in the past 28 days, zero severe/critical confirmed cases in the past three weeks, booster shots increasing, schools opening up, safe tourism blooming in the better normal, health workers having quality and quantity time with family, Facebook walls of friends filled with pictures of blue seas and skies, and from bounties of the land, reunion with friends and families happening, mobility in pre-pandemic stage.

  Although new cases were detected again the following day ending the zero active case glee and amid the threat of new surges looming this May, the analysts are still optimistic.

  “We’re better prepared now more than ever.  With testing, we find out who is infected.  With isolation, we prevent them from infecting others.  With contact tracing, we figure out the people with whom they’ve been in contact.  With quarantines, we prevent these contacts from infecting others.  With vaccination, we decrease the risk of long COVID, hospitalizations and death,” Panes said.

  With the steady decline of cases leading to a peak of no cases, the city is enjoying a low healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) even as some 80,000 visitors visited the city during Holy Week.

The city’s HCUR is sitting at a low 9.23 percent, with only 35 of its total 379 available beds currently under use.

However, the city is continuing to conduct routine testing to keep tabs on the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to conduct at least 300 tests on a daily basis.

Latest figures indicate a total of 41,449 cases across the city’s more than two-year fight against the disease, with 830 deaths in total.

April has shown a steady low incidence of the COVID-19 disease, with the active case peak being 13 concurrent cases at the start of the month on April 1.- with reports from Aileen P. Refuerzo