18 COVID-19 cases outside Davao City linked to Matina Gallera derby

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 April )  —  Seven more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with history of exposure at the New Davao Matina Gallera six-cock-derby last month have been reported in succession since Monday in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Davao de Oro, General Santos and Bukidnon, bringing to 18 the total outside Davao City.

Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, General Santos and Bukidnon, recorded their first ever COVID-19 cases from residents who went to the Matina Gallera derby.

A 54-year old male in Maguindanao (PH3271) with history of travel to Davao City and in particular, the New Davao Matina Gallera,  the epicenter of COVID-19, tested positive and is presently on “strict home quarantine,” the Ministry of Health of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) reported. His lab results were released on April 5. He was the first COVID-19 case in Maguindanao.

SIx-cock derby announcement on tarpaulin outside the New Davao Matina Gallera says prize pot is 26 million pesos, 17 million for the champion. MindaaNews photo by GREGORIO BUENO

On Monday, April 6,  a 45-year old male from Midsayap in North Cotabato became the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the province. The cockfighting aficionado was tested on March 21 but results came out only on April 6, Dr. Philbert Malaluan, manager of the Emergency Operations Center of the province’s Inter-Agency Task Force, said.

Another North Cotabato resident who attended the Davao derby also tested positive,  according to Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista on Thursday. Evangelista said the 48-year old male resident went to the Davao derby last month with some 30 others.

On Tuesday, April 7, Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, Jr., chief of the South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office,  said a 56-year old male from Banga town who returned home on March 13 after attending the derby in Davao, tested positive of COVID-19.

The man, he said, started feeling the symptoms three days after arrival, was attended to by a doctor but was admitted in a hospital on March 27.

Aturdido said the lab result released on April 6 came a week after the patient was discharged from the hospital. “He is currently in stable condition and undergoing strict home quarantine, in close coordination with health personnel,” he said in a press briefing.

Virus spreader

The “Araw ng Davao celebration 6-Cock Derby,” which had a prize pot of 26 million pesos, 17 million of that for the champion, started March 7 and was ordered suspended by Mayor Sara Duterte on its third elimination round evening of March 12. The final round would have been on March 14.

Several days later, reports of derby-goers falling ill and even dying, spread across the sabong (cockfighting) world.

The derby pushed through even as Health Secretary Francisco Duque has issued on February 10 and advisory against mass gatherings and heeding that, Mayor Duterte on February 10 cancelled all the Araw ng Dabaw activities.

Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, chair of the Finance, Ways and Means and Appropriations and Games and Amusement committees, who was tasked by Mayor Duterte to investigate what happened, said in his March 31 letter to the mayor that the Council unanimously approved on February 4 the request of the Gallera manager, Dory Du, for a 3-cock derby, before Duque’s advisory, “the time when there was no COVID-19 pandemic then and no health advisory which made the Council enact the granting of request. “

Given Duque’s advisory and the mayor’s order to cancel Araw ng Dabaw activities, MindaNews asked Dayanghirang why the Council did not revoke the resolution that allowed the derby and which was the basis for the issuance of a permit. “It’s a private sponsored event while all other activities were allowed in national level,” he told MindaNews on April 1.

Mayor Duterte’s office also did an inquiry and in a statement on April 6, said the holding of the derby last month violated no law.

But even as “no law  was violated” the mayor announced in the same statement the resignation of the chief of the Business Permit and Licensing Division who, she said, could have stopped the conduct of the derby “and further prevented the situation from escalating, but did not vigorously act on it.”

“It was a judgment call that was never made. This person already tendered resignation effective April 4, 2020,” the mayor said, adding, that it should serve as a “reminder for all officials in the City Government to always put forward the general welfare of the residents of the city.”

“I hope that this shall be a lesson that no one will ever forget, especially for those who work to serve Davao City and the Dabawenyos,” the mayor added.

In GensSan, one plus how many more?

On Tuesday evening, General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera in a video message to the public said a 59-year old person under investigation (PUI) who was at the derby in Davao last month had tested positive of COVID-19.  He is the first COVID-19 case in General Santos.

“He is currently admitted and isolated in a hospital, and closely monitored by our medical frontliners,” Rivera said, adding the  City Health Office, in coordination with the barangay health emergency response teams, has stepped up the tracing of the patient’s other companions and persons who have had close contact with him.

The city’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases reported late last week that it tracked down at least seven of the derby attendees, with one considered a PUI and the six others as persons under monitoring (PUM).

But City Administrator Arnel Zapatos said they received reports that there were at least 70 from the city who went to the derby.

More than 14 days

Also on Tuesday, April 7, the provincial  government of Davao de Oro confirmed that a male resident of Mawab who went to the Matina Gallera  derby on March 12 tested positive of COVID-19. He is presently admitted at the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City and is in stable condition.

Dr. Antonio Ybiernas, Jr. Provincial Health Officer and Emergency Operations Command manager said the patient was checked for cough by a local doctor on April 1 and was immediately referred to the Davao Regional Medical Center where he is now in stable condition and awaiting another testing before discharge.

Ybiernas, according to a report of the Philippine Information Agency on April 7, urged residents to continue to be careful because even as doctors have been saying the incubation period of the virus is 14 days,  the symptoms of the patient manifested even beyond that period.

April 1 is within the 14 to 21-day period of quarantine that people with exposure to a COVID-19 positive have been asked to undertake.

On Thursday, April 9, Valencia City Mayor Azucena Huervas in a statement said a PUI from Barangay Lumbayao who attended the derby in Davao City on March 12 tested positive of COVID-19, the first confirmed case in the province of Bukidnon.

Earlier, on March 29,  Mayor Leoncio Bagol of Tubod in Lanao del Norte put on preventive lockdown a village from 7 p.m that day until April 7 after a 67-year old male who went to the derby in Davao City also on March12 tested positive for COVID-19.

18 outside Davao City

In all, MindaNews counted 18 COVID-19 cases outside Davao City that have beent racked down to the Matina Gallera: eight in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, two in Davao del Sur, two in North Cotabato, one each in Lanao del Norte, South Cotabato, General Santos, Davao de Oro, Maguindanao and Valencia in Bukidnon.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases outside Davao City but traced to the New Davao Matina Gallera derby last month have reached 18 as of Apri. 11. MIndaNews map

Dr. Arnel Florendo, City Health Office of Tagum had earlier told MindaNews that out of the nine confirmed cases, six were at the derby in Matina Gallera, two were household members of those who went to the gallera and one had no history of exposure to the Davao derby but went to the cockpit of Maco on March 13.

The total number could reach 19 if  the person with exposure in the Maco cockpit is found to have been infected by someone who went to the Davao derby and the Maco cockpit.

Inside Davao City

In the epicenter itself in Davao City,  how many of the total confirmed cases are because of the derby?

The Department of Health (DOH) regional office  recorded 87 confirmed cases, 13 deaths and 48 recoveries  as of 5 p.m. on April 10.  All the reported 13 deaths are in Davao City.

Of 87 confirmed cases, 71 are in Davao City, 10 in Davao del Norte, three in Davao Oriental,  two in Davao del Sur, two in Davao de Oro and none in Davao Occidental.

The regional office, however, only releases numbers with no corresponding case histories.  It has not released the  histories of Case 9 onwards despite repeated demands.

The first eight cases in the region all had Manila in their travel histories. The histories of Cases 9 until 87 would have shown the public when the community transmission started and who have histories of exposure to the New Davao Matina Gallera and who were infected by those who were infected in the derby.

MindaNews was able to retrieve  the data on the Matina Gallera cases in the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and Davao de Oro from the local governments, not from DOH-Davao which posts only numbers.

The City Government of Davao’s update as of 8 a.m. on April 9 posted on its FB page shows there are 79 PUIs, 71 positive cases, 35 recoveries and 13 deaths.

There is no data posted on how many of these 71 positive cases are linked to the  derby, how many had history of travel to Manila or other places.

MindaNews sent Dr. Annabelle Yumang, regional health director, a set of questions at 8 a.m. on Saturday including how many of the 87 cases are linked to the Matina Gallera but she has not sent a reply as of 1 p.m. (Carolyn O. Arguillas with reports from Malu Cadelina-Manar, Bong Sarmiento, Froilan Gallardo, H. Marcos C. Mordeno and Richel V. Umel / MindaNews)

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