Baguio to reopen to tourists from other Luzon areas despite recent spike in COVID-19 cases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) -- Baguio City will push through with its plan to accept tourists from other regions in Luzon despite recently recording a spike in new coronavirus cases, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said Thursday.

“It will not change our plan to open to tourists. In fact, we're scheduled to formally open it tomorrow,” Magalong told CNN Philippines’ New Day about opening Baguio's doors to up to 200 visitors from Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, and Central Luzon starting Friday, subject to protocols.

The summer capital first welcomed tourists from the Ilocos Region on October 1 to jump-start the local economy.

‘Aggressive’ measures

Magalong said they continue to be “really aggressive” in terms of testing and increasing their capacity to isolate by adding more beds in facilities, as well as tracing contacts to prevent the disease from further spreading in the city.

“In fact, this coming Oct. 26, 27, 28, we’ll do a marathon test that will be 1,000 per day. At present, we are doing about 400-500 a day, at an average. That includes the combination of antigen and RT-PCR,” the mayor said.

He also said they are starting to see a decline in the number of new infections.

A team of researchers, which monitors and evaluates COVID-19 trends in the country, earlier tagged Baguio City as one of the high-risk areas due to a spike in new infections from Oct. 11 to 17, an alarming attack rate, and dwindling hospital capacity to accommodate patients.

READ: Experts flag Makati, Baguio, Mandaluyong as high-risk areas for COVID-19

OCTA Research said the City of Pines has a 69% hospital occupancy rate as of Oct. 16. and recorded an 11.1% attack rate — the proportion of those who have gotten ill after their exposure to the virus.

Magalong said one of the reasons why their healthcare facilities are close to getting full is because of some patients from outside of Baguio whom they cannot turn away, noting that many of them are in critical condition.