National Policy against Covid-19 deputy chief implementer, Secretary Vince Dizon lauded the city government here for pioneering the implementation of the new normal in the country.
Dizon, together with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Mayor Benjamin Magalong, visited the city on Friday to check the preparation of establishments for the reopening of the city’s tourism sector.
“I think I have seen the new normal now here in Baguio City. I arrived early dito sa Session Road at marami ng mga sasakyan, nagbebenta at namimili na ang mga tao at halos walang pinagkaiba sa dating Session Road maliban lang sa naka face mask, face shield at dumidistansya ang mga tao (I arrived early here at Session Road and there were already several vehicles, several sellers and people are buying which is not so different from what it was before except that the people are wearing face mask and face shield and observing physical distancing),” Dizon said.
Dizon said the effort of the city should be replicated in other areas in the country to help strengthen the economy.
“I’m happy and I admire Mayor Benjamin Magalong for his firm leadership and for controlling the effect of Covid-19 while trying to give the old life of the Baguio people, ” Dizon said.
Dizon also visited some of the establishments along Session Road where he took the chance to interview owners about their economic situation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
He also took the opportunity to buy some goodies like the ube-cheese pandesal from one of the establishments.
Dizon’s visit to the city is to also oversee the expanded mass testing of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) where he is also the President and Chief Executive Officer.
BCDA is doing the mass testing for 3,000 residents of Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay (BLISTT).
Aside from contact tracing, Roque said Baguio City is also ramping up testing with their off-site aggressive community testing.
“They conduct random testing, they test around 800 people from various villages and they are subjected to PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing. Even if Baguio City is number one in terms of tracing, it continues to implement aggressive testing to determine those who are positive for Covid-19),” he said in Filipino.
From being known as a top tourist destination, Baguio is identified as having the best contact tracing practices among local government units in the country.
Roque added that once antigen testing is approved by the Department of Health, it would be another game-changer in the country’s Covid-19 response.
“It is game-changer because, in essence, it would like rapid testing kits but its accuracy is not that far from that of the PCR testing,” he added.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) further resolved that the use of antigen tests for interzonal travel should also consider cross-border differences in quarantine status and the prevalence of level of transmission, including specialized programs of the Department of Tourism.
Starting Sept. 22, Baguio City will be open to tourists from Region 1 (Ilocos Region).
Magalong said the opening up of the city for tourism will be a learning experience for them as they will use this to study further how to gradually open the city for more tourism activities. (PNA)