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Baguio Delays Reopening After Drinking Session Sparks Outbreak

At the drinking session, people shared utensils and a shot glass.
by Joel Guinto
Sep 22, 2020
Photo/s: Unsplash / Carmela Asistio

Baguio City's reopening to tourists from surrounding provinces was pushed back by a week to give authorities time to contain two outbreaks. The culprits? People who disregarded safety protocols at a drinking party, its mayor said Tuesday.

There were 38 cases in Barangay Slaughterhouse, which is famed for restaurants that serve highland fare like dinakdakan and sinanglaw using goat meat. In Barangay Lourdes, near the main tourist center, the lockdown was extended due to residents who refused to cooperate with contact-tracers, said Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

Magalong is also the Philippines' contact-tracing czar and he has largely succeeded in containing the outbreak in the city, using his extensive background in police intelligence. A tourism "bubble" with neighbor provinces in the Ilocos Region was supposed to start on Tuesday,

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"Nang mag-inuman, malasing, iisang baso na lang, iisang utensil ang ginagamit... Wala nang physical distancing, wala na ring pakialam sa minimum health standards (They got drunk and shared utensils and one drinking glass. There was no physical distancing, compliance with minimum health standards)," Magalong told TeleRadyo.

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Up to 200 tourists per day will be allowed into the city starting next week, he said.

Magalong also appealed for volunteers to help augment the country's army of contact-tracers. Ideally, each team will be composed of four people with different backgroundsin health and intelligence work.

"We need volunteers, cause-oriented groups na sa tingin nila meron silang critical thinking ability, iyong members may investigative mindset, hindi naman naghahanap ng suweldo. They can always volunteer," he said.

Addressing those who want to visit Baguio, Magalong said city officials were observing what he called "3S" -- surely, safely and slowly.

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