81 ROFs, LSIs in Davao region test positive for COVID-19

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 June) –At least 39 returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and 42 locally stranded individuals (LSIs), or a total of 81, who arrived here have tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an official from the Department of Health – Davao region (DOH-Davao) said Monday.

In a phone interview, Dr. Lenny Joy Rivera, DOH-Davao assistant director, said the agency has listed a total of 3,092 ROFs and LSIs who have returned to the region as of Monday, June 29.

However, she said they are still verifying if all of them have returned through the “Hatid Tulong,” a transportation assistance program of the national government to help stranded ROFs and LSIs to return to their hometowns.

She said the DOH-Davao has yet to know how many of the 39 ROFs came from Manila, Cebu and Clark in Pampanga.

When the domestic commercial flights resumed last June 8, Philippine Airlines opened the Manila-Davao-Manila route on Mondays, Cebu-Davao-Cebu on Tuesdays, and Davao-Clark-Davao on Fridays; Cebu Pacific resumed the Cebu-Davao-Cebu on Tuesdays and Manila-Davao-Manila on Wednesdays; and, AirAsia resumed the Cebu-Davao-Cebu on Thursdays, Manila-Davao-Manila on Fridays, and Clark-Davao-Clark on Saturdays, until June 30.

Rivera confirmed that some of the COVID-19 positive LSIs travelled from Manila and Cebu, the latter now considered as the hotspot for COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

“We have still incoming LSIs. (But) the government has been doing its best and all the strategies that we can implement not only in Davao City but also in other provinces,” Rivera said in a press briefing streamed live at the Philippine Information Agency-Davao Facebook page.

She said that many of the COVID-19 positive ROFs and LSIs are asymptomatic, adding she has yet to determine how of them have recovered.

They were found positive using the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing, Rivera said.

According to her, health authorities have stopped using the anti-body rapid diagnostic testing to arriving passengers because they are not accurate in detecting COVID-19.

Dr. Ricardo Audan, chief of clinics and health emergency at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), urged the public to observe precautionary measures to avoid a sudden surge in the number of infections since ROFs and LSIs from different parts of the country have been allowed to return to home.

“We have to really strengthen our health precautionary measures because, as our infectious disease specialists said, if you are negative right now, it doesn’t mean you will be negative tomorrow,” Audan stressed.

He said that a simple wearing of facemask and observing physical distancing can give individuals an 85-percent protection from the disease.

According to DOH-Davao, there are 526 total COVID-19 positives in the Davao region, 411 of them from Davao City, 40 from Davao del Norte, 21 from Davao del Sur, 26 from Davao de Oro, 24 from Davao Oriental, and four from Davao Occidental as of June 29.

Of the total, 356 have recovered while 32 had died.

Davao City reported at least 300 recoveries, according to DOH-Davao.

Audan attributed the high recovery rate of COVID-19 patients in the city to the treatment rendered by SPMC, noting that most of the admissions are either asymptomatic patients or those having minor symptoms only.

He said the SPMC would soon accommodate non-patients who want themselves tested for COVID-19, as the government-owned hospital would operate the donated four RT-PCR testing machines from San Miguel Corporation and Ayala Group, which would capacitate SPMC to do over 1,000 tests daily. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)