Davao City residents “prohibited from going out” but mayor says “no lockdown”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 March) —  Mayor Sara Duterte on Thursday evening urged Dabawenyos to refrain from “going out of the city” but maintained the city is “not on lockdown” amid the increasing number of confirmed novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the country.

As of Thursday, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 had risen to 52 from  six as of 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, to 10 that evening;  to 19 by Monday, 33 by Tuesday, 49 by Wednesday, and 52 by Thursday, according to the case tracker of the Department of Health (DOH).

As of 9 p.m. Thursday, the city has had no confirmed COVID-19 case yet. A patient under investigation over the weekend tested negative. Mayor Duterte said the city should not wait for a person to test positive before taking action because “daghan kaayo mamatay ug mukuyanap ang sakit diri sa ato” (so many people will die if the disease will spread),  stressing the city has limitations in terms of health care facilities.

From the FB page of the City Government of Davao.

The mayor voluntarily underwent a self-quarantine starting Thursday, a day after her meeting with Senator Sherwin Gatchalian who went on self-quarantine hours later,  after he was informed that a patient who was a resource person in a Senate hearing he chaired on March 5 tested positive for COVID-19.

In. a statement Thursday evening, Mayor Duterte clarified that Davao is “not on lockdown” but Dabawenyos are “prohibited” from going to other places outside the city.

Residents expressed their confusion and sought clarifications through the comments section of the Facebook page of the city government over what is technically a lockdown – residents not allowed to go out of the city, visitors to leave immediately, postpone travels to the city – but Guidelines No. 8 issued by the city government Thursday evening and the mayor say “the city is not on lockdown.”

Guidelines No. 8 on Covid-19 issued by the city government early Thursday evening states that “Davao City is NOT ON LOCKDOWN but here are guidelines on travel: 1. All Davao residents are prohibited from going out of Davao City. 2. All short term visitors are advised to leave Davao City immediately. 3. All travelers to Davao City are requested to postpone your visit until after the State of Public Health Emergency is lifted.”

She later clarified in a radio interview over Davao Disaster Radio 87.5  that residents are prohibited from going on “unnecessary travels” outside the city.

The mayor said she could not understand why people are confused by the guidelines.  “Mubasa sa sila sa first line ayha sila muadto  sa second line.

Klaro kayo sa (Theyshould read the first line first before going to the second line. It is very clear in the) first line there is no lockdown so I do not understand the confusion,” she said in the radio interview.

The word “prohibited,” she explained, was used because “I have the obligation to warn everyone” that the city has limitations in terms of health facilities.

She also said there will be no holding of people at the checkpoints. “Wala tay lockdown so wala tay instruction sa checkpoints to hold people” (We do not have a lockdown so there are no instructions to hold people at the checkpoints), she said, adding there are also no instructions to bar people from entering the city unless the person is on the list of people for contact tracing.

Davao City Health Office personnel disinfects the motorpool of the city’s garbage collection trucks on 12 March 2020 as part of measures to prevent COVID-19 infection in the city. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

The mayor said the “drastic need for action” has to be taken immediately because the “city has a limitation on health facilities and we cannot afford a widespread infection of Covid-19 here.”

She expressed fear it would be too late “to wait for one positive patient before taking action.,” which may result in deaths.

“If you are not a resident of Davao and you get the disease here, you can spread it in your hometown once you go back. It would be better if we take preventive measures,” the mayor added.

She said the advisory was issued after her father, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the country “under a state of health emergency related to national security.”

President Duterte later on Thursday evening announced that the entire Metro Manila has been placed on community quarantine and travel to and from Metro Manila by land, air and sea is suspended from March 15 until April 14. Classes in all levels are also suspended until April 12.

The mayor said health is a primary public concern, and that it is “within her mandate to remind the public of what should be done.”

Guidelines No. 8 came about an hour Guidelines No. 7 consisting of eight points, was released.

These are the eight points:

  1. Meetings, conventions, exhibits, conferences, parties, and all other similar social activities must be canceled until after the public health emergency has been lifted.
  2. All schools from kindergarten to post-graduate studies must cancel classes and immediately shift to online sessions and take home assignments. All recognition and graduation ceremonies should be postponed until after the public health emergency is lifted.
  3. All restaurants, hotels, and other event centers must postpone scheduled events until after the public health emergency has been lifted.
  4. Everyone is advised not to attend masses, prayer meetings, and other faith-based and religious gatherings.
  5. Everyone is advised to stay at home and refrain from going to public places.
  6. All Department Heads are mandated to create a ‘work from home’ plan for most employees. Offices shall create minimum workforce to ensure that government work shall not be disrupted.
  7. All City Government offices will not accept visitors. Everyone is advised to call trunkline (082) 241 1000 or email the office you need to contact.
  8. All submissions to the City Government shall be received at the Almendras gym with the designated personnel to receive and record submissions.

Submissions include documents that are to be filed such as applications for permits, etc..

The City Information Office said the mayor ordered the indefinite suspension of the operations of the Roxas Night Market and the shutdown of all public playgrounds and parks.”  (Antonio L. Colina / IV MIndaNews)