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Baguio City’s Surge in Gastroenteritis Cases Prompts Health Warnings for Residents and Tourists

In the wake of increasing cases of acute gastroenteritis in Baguio City, concerted efforts by the local health authorities and SM City Baguio are underway to ensure public health and safety.

The Baguio City Health Services Office, led by Acting City Health Officer Dr. Celia Flor Brillantes, has been actively investigating the outbreak since reports emerged on January 2, primarily focusing on various food establishments. Concerns over water contamination have prompted the Sanitation Division to test water samples from these establishments.

To further enhance the response to this health crisis, the city has introduced a food and water-borne illness self-reporting form. This initiative allows residents to report symptoms and potential sources of contamination, aiding the health authorities in tracking and managing the outbreak more effectively.

Self-reporting form

Dr. Brillantes has advised local food businesses to cease serving tap and filtered water, recommending purified or bottled water as a safer alternative. This measure aims to protect customers and prevent further cases. The Baguio Water District is also conducting its investigation to determine the source of contamination.

As of the latest update, the city has recorded around 350 cases of acute gastroenteritis since December 21, 2023. Dr. Brillantes encourages residents experiencing symptoms to seek immediate medical attention at district health centers and to utilize the self-reporting form for efficient tracking.

In a coordinated effort, SM City Baguio has issued an official statement detailing its proactive measures. The mall is collaborating with the City Health Office for comprehensive water testing and has instructed its tenants to temporarily serve mineral or bottled water. This step is part of a broader commitment to safety and sanitation, underscoring the mall’s priority for the well-being of its customers, business partners, and employees.

In a significant development, Mayor Benjamin Magalong has escalated the city’s response to the gastroenteritis outbreak. Early this morning, he convened a health emergency team, outlining a comprehensive action plan. This plan includes mass testing of water sources, encompassing water delivery companies, and both government and private deep wells. The Baguio City Health Services, Baguio Water District, and the Baguio City Police Office are collaborating to expedite the investigation and water testing procedures. Mayor Magalong emphasized the urgency of identifying the contamination source, stating, “We have to speed up the investigation, test as many as we can and get results as soon as possible.” The city is conducting rapid tests using total dissolved solid (TDS) testers on affected establishments and households, with those testing positive undergoing further microbial analyses. The mayor has also issued a stern warning of sanctions against any non-cooperative entities. Additionally, a directive has been issued to all food establishments in the city to serve only purified water, regardless of whether they have reported cases. As of now, the City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (CESU) has received 1,500 incident reports, including previously unreported cases. Dr. Celia Flor Brillantes, Acting City Health Officer, advises households to use purified or boiled water to ensure safety.

Sources: Baguio City Public Information Office
SM City Baguio Press Release

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