From hundreds of new COVID-19 cases daily which brought the total number of cases in Baguio into thousands in January of this year, to single-digit new daily cases in March, the decline is truly significant. Thanks to the sharp decline of daily cases that the city was able to celebrate a special edition of the Panagbenga Festival 2022. Restrictions were eased particularly in areas like the entry protocols, curfew, and liquor ban to name a few. It is also because of this low number of new daily cases that Baguio City’s alert level status was lowered to Alert level 1.
For now, Baguio residents can breathe and move forward to normalizing their lives. With the increase in tourist arrivals in Baguio City, the economy is becoming vibrant due to the increase in monetary transactions brought about by residents and tourists.
The latest data shows that a surge may not happen anytime soon. For the past three days from March 21-23, 2022, the City of Baguio recorded zero cases of COVID-19. However, the low number of daily new cases should not be the basis to become complacent.
We are not yet out of the woods
The decline in the number of new daily cases may be promising but it should not be taken as a signal for people to let their guards down. The scourge of COVID-19 still looms and this has already been observed in countries like Hong Kong, China, Korea, and the United Kingdom.
Just a few weeks ago, Hong Kong took center stage as cases surged in the number of COVID-19 deaths. Most of Hong Kong’s crematoriums are almost full. The majority of the deaths were seen among the elderly, who are unvaccinated and some being care-home patients.
European countries also reported a jump in the number of cases. Just a few weeks ago, Finland and Germany posted a surge which they are currently recovering from now. While the United Kingdom and France are currently experiencing the surge, as indicated in the latest data.
China’s surge began during the first week of March and the number of new daily cases doubled causing a sharp increase in the number of cases. This forced the government to revert to locking down affected areas in the country. The northeastern province of Jilin was one of the worst-hit by the latest surge in the country. About 14 Million people in Jilin were not allowed to leave and even to travel between cities.
South Korea also reported a surge in the number of new daily cases. Based on data, South Korea daily new COVID-19 cases started to surge February this year. Just last week, South Korea was deemed as the global COVID-19 hotspot. In March 15, 2022, South Korea reported 400,741 cases.
The Suspected Culprit
Every COVID-19 surge has a particular variant responsible for it. The surge during the last quarter of 2021 and January 2022 was due to the Omicron variant. The current surge is said to have been caused by a subvariant of Omicron, known as BA.2. This Omicron subvariant is said to be more infectious than the Omicron variant. However, there are not much research data about this BA.2. There is however a correspondence published in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Neutralization of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 Variants”. The following are what we can deduce from the correspondence:
- Unvaccinated individuals are most vulnerable to infection of the BA.2 subvariant.
- Vaccinated individuals with booster shots have better protection against the BA.2 subvariant
- Vaccinated individuals with booster shots who were previously infected by BA.1 Omicron variant have the best protection against the BA.2.
We cannot be complacent
While we enjoy some sort of freedom from the limitations brought about by the virus, we also have to consider what is happening in other countries. If there is one thing we should know now is that the variant that is causing a surge in other countries may arrive in our country and locality soon, considering the fact that right now, the mobility rate is at its highest since the start of the pandemic. So remember to wear your facemask, keep your distance, disinfect and decontaminate.