Magalong: Medical community in Baguio withdraws call for ‘timeout’ after dialogue

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20) — Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong said Friday members of the city's medical community have decided to withdraw their request for a ‘timeout’ after he met with them a few days ago.

“They decided not to pursue 'yung kanilang demand na magkaroon ng timeout kasi nakita naman nila na sufficient ang ginagawa ng local government,” Magalong said in a briefing.

[Translation: They decided not to pursue their demand for a timeout because they saw that what the local government is doing is sufficient.]

Earlier, frontline healthcare workers in the city asked for a timeout on all public activities after some hospitals got filled up with COVID-19 patients, including medical staff, due to limited isolation beds.

The Department of Health’s COVID-19 tracker data as of November 18 showed hospital occupancy in the city is at 75.6%. Only eight of the 118 isolation beds and eight of 26 ICU beds in five major hospitals are vacant. Meanwhile, 36% or 28 ward beds remain unoccupied.

Magalong confirmed that he met with some city doctors to discuss their concerns. But he said he was able to explain to them that the cases in Baguio are decreasing, adding he promised to continue imposing strict border controls.

“We cannot blame them because ang perception nila ay dumarami ang kaso dahil sa nakikita nilang situation sa ospital,” he said. "Pero we engaged them last Sunday afternoon, pinakita namin ang data sa kanila … kung ano ang ginagawa ng local government, ng mga health services, saka nila na-realize na it is an overreaction."

[Translation: We cannot blame them because their perception is that cases are increasing based on the situation they see in hospitals. But we engaged them on Sunday afternoon and made them see the data [on cases], what the local government is doing, what the health services are. Only then that they realized the call was an overreaction.]

Magalong noted that their cases in the city have been “on a downtrend” in the last two weeks after being tagged by the OCTA Research as one of the high-risk areas due to a spike in infections from Oct. 11 to 17, an alarming attack rate, and dwindling hospital capacity to accommodate patients.

He attributed the decline in infections to expanded testing, aggressive contact tracing, and a ban on visitors from nearby towns. He also said they converted a former hospital into a step-down facility for infected healthcare workers with mild symptoms to decongest hospitals.

Beginning Saturday, until Dec. 4, Baguio will tighten its restrictions on tourists from municipalities of Trinidad, Sablan, Tublay, and Tuba in a renewed bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 cases. 

But the City of Pines accepts up to 500 tourists from other regions daily, subject to protocols, Magalong said.

Baguio so far has 2,840 cases, with 2,425 recoveries and 39 deaths.