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Now Reading: MEDICAL SLEUTH | Baguio mayor uses police investigative techniques in COVID fight
MEDICAL SLEUTH | Baguio mayor uses police investigative techniques in COVID fight
April 8, 2020 , 01:04 PM

By Patrick Paez

(April 8, 2020) – The Philippines’ summer capital, which has not reported any single coronavirus case in the last nine days, maybe ready to implement a modified enhanced community quarantine, its local chief executive said, believing the mountain resort city has reached the peak of infection.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a retired police major general who used to be the head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said he helped the city’s medical experts in contact tracing people who were exposed to infected persons using his sleuthing skills.

Like any other cities around the country, Baguio did not have enough test kits to screen residents who may be at risk of coronavirus infection, so Magalong applied what he knew best: police investigative techniques. 

“Contact-tracing is parang trabaho ng imbestigador,” Magalong said in an interview with Cignal TV’s One PH. “Parang naghahanap ka ng suspek.” 

He quickly drilled doctors and medical staff on techniques learned from the Australian police that involved the use of an expensive software for “link” and “geospatial” analyses. Every gap in the contact-tracing exercise meant four potential cases of infection. 

Another technological tool they used was a virus scanner from Huawei that Magalong said helped them isolate potential cases even before proper testing for COVID-19 can be done. 

As of this writing, Baguio City has a total of 14 confirmed cases: six are in the hospital, seven have recovered, and one died—a 49-year old woman who had tuberculosis. 

More than 3,700 people have been infected nationwide, the second highest in Southeast Asia behind Malaysia, and 177 had died in less than a month after the outbreak.

Baguio’s patient no. 1, a 69-year-old who traveled to Italy, has recovered and is out of the hospital. 

“We forsee na lahat sila [patients], makaka-recover,” said Magalong. 

Baguio has not also seen any new cases. The mayor spoke with President Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez, who was designated as the chief implementor of the government’s fight against the pandemic, and asked, “kung puwede sana, kung ang isang LGU sa kanilang pananaw, capable naman i-manage ang kanilang situation, pabayaan na natin sila i-localize o i-modify [ang quarantine].”

Magalong, who became famous for leading the inquiry on the ill-fated police commando operations against a Malaysian terrorist which led to the death of 44 police officers, said he wants to allow construction of government projects to resume. 

He said Baguio will remain closed to non-residents throughout the Luzon-wide lockdown, so contractors will have to hire locals or subject outside laborers to 14-day quarantine before entering Baguio. (MM)

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