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Covid cases significantly drop as night market opens anew

PREPPING THE NIGHT MARKET. Workers from the City Engineering office prepare the spots for the night market at the Harrison Road Thursday, December 10. Pigeon Lobien

DECEMBER 10 – Baguio is set to see a different night market starting tomorrow (December 11) to implement major changes as a result of lessons learned during its now infamous reopening last December 1.

As the city sees another surge of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, market superintendent Fernando Ragma, Jr. is confident that they will be able to avoid the pitfalls of the December 1 “debacle” when people flooded the Harrison market and minimum health protocols thrown to the wind.

Ragma during the Ugnayan at City Hall Wednesday, December 9, said that there will be some 400 total stalls placed back to back at the 250 meter stretch of the road.

“From 45 percent, it will be 33 percent or 1/3 (of the old number) are allowed,” said Ragma.

Last December 1, 481 concessionaires – 433 dry goods and 48 food – were allowed but this will be further reduced to only 304 dry goods and 48 food or 351 stalls, said Ragma.

Ragma said that the stalls will be placed back to back so only two lanes will be placed. There will be only two entrance/exit for the whole stretch.

Ragma said that they have to introduce improvements as the last staging received much backlash as hundreds trooped to the night market which has been closed for more than eight months.

“We did not expect the outpouring, not just from the opening of the street lighting and Christmas tree along Session road, but also those from home,” Ragma said in the vernacular during an earlier press conference.

Ragma said that the night market is a big help for the city’s economy.

“Maraming binubuhay ito hindi lang ang mga vendors, pati na rin ang transport dahil maraming taxi (It provides income to many not just for the vendors but also to the transport group like the taxi drivers),” he told mediamen.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong during the December 1 tree lighting event that he will take the blame for the outpouring of people to observe the event where social distancing was not observed by the crowd.

With at least 20 Covid-19 cases a day prior during that week, down from more than 40 from the first week of November, daily cases now stand at 36.17 a day. Most of the new cases are from contract tracing.

This despite the earlier pronouncements of city epidemiologist Dr. Donabel Panes that there is an expected surge this month due to the colder nights.

She, however, stressed that people should be extra careful and avoid gatherings as expected this month, the Yule season.

Panes said as a reminder that “proper wearing of face masks and shields and other personal protective equipment, frequent hand washing, observance of cough etiquette are equally important.”

Baguio has a total of 3,300 confirmed cases, of these more than 1,000 were registered last October. The City Health Office that at its peak, there are at least 40 new cases a day which was surpassed by 43 cases a day on the first week of November.

By then, the CHO predicted that by end of November, cases will rise to 5,000 that will further strain the health facilities of the city as well as its health personnel.

However, cases dropped to some 26 during the second week and down to only 15 by the third week, until the December 1 tree lighting event and the reopening of the night market.

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