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Baguio readies action plan to contain possible Omicron outbreak amid surge in tourism



Baguio City, Philippines – The city government of Baguio started crafting an action plan to deal with the possible outbreak of the COVID-19 Omicron variant amidst continuous arrival of tourists in the city, especially this Christmas season.


“I am hoping that Omicron will not hit us this Christmas, but looking at the latest developments, there is a big possibility. I don’t like to spoil our Christmas, but I really hope we will be spared,” said Baguio mayor Benjamin Magalong.


Magalong said the city government will be observing developments on the Omicron variant to guide them in drafting an action plan to deal with the effect of said variant.

“We will be watching the developments on Omicron to guide us in our action plan. The next two weeks will be critical in ascertaining its features,” the mayor said.


He added that the city of Baguio will surely be impacted the moment the Omicron variant hits Manila because the majority of tourists are coming from the National Capital Region.


The mayor, as reported by Baguio City Information Office, however, expressed confidence that the city can deal with the effects of Omicron the way it did with the Delta variant.

“I hope we will be able to suppress this but we can be confident that we will be able to handle it with the positive developments on our front, the readiness of our control systems, and the lessons and experience that we had with the Delta variant,” the mayor said.


He described the variant as ‘three times more transmissible than Delta with some affected countries experiencing a mercurial rise in positivity rates.’


Initial research into Omicron found that the new variant of concern has more than 30 mutations of the spike protein which can change the way a virus infects cells and spreads, which experts fear could make it more transmissible, resistant to vaccines, and capable of causing a higher risk of infections

However, the mayor said that ‘there are indications that its infection is not that severe even as studies on the variant are continuing.’


City Administrator Bonifacio Dela Peña, on the other hand, said that ‘though the city eased up quarantine protocols to reopen its badly hit tourism industry and prepared only limited number and low-key activities for Christmas, the city is prepared to cancel these when the situation calls for it.’


“Our action plan will be dynamic. Now, our protocols are a little lax since we are on alert level 2 but in the event that the Omicron risk gets higher, then expect us to again step up our restrictions,” Dela Peña said.


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