Davao City records 104 cases with no known exposure to COVID-19 patients

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 July) – Out of 650 COVID-19 cases in Davao City as of Thursday, 104 or 16% have been classified under community transmission, or those whose exposure to a confirmed positive patient could no longer be established.

But health authorities in the  Davao Region assured the public that it is still “manageable.”

In a virtual presser on Friday, Dr. Raquel Montejo, contact tracing team leader at the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region,  said there are COVID-19 cases in the city who have exposure to unknown COVID-19 positive individuals in the community, particularly in areas classified high risk to very high risk such as Barangay 23-C, Mintal, Buhangin District, and Agdao District.

“These cases have exposure to unknown individuals in the community. These are the cases who we can no longer establish with whom they are epidemiologically linked to any positive cases, but they all came from areas where there is a local transmission, but we cannot just pinpoint who among the community infected them,” she said.

This is usually a busy street leading to the coastal area of Barangay 23-C in Davao City, but is now almost deserted in this photo taken Monday (6 July 2020) due to the 14-day “hard lockdown” imposed by the city government because of the surge of cases in the village. MindaNews photo

She cited, for instance, a sidewalk vendor in a densely populated Barangay 23-C contracted COVID-19 but could not determine as to how this patient got infected in the community.

Barangay 23-C was placed under a 14-day lockdown from July 4 to July 18, subject to extension if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. As of 4 p.m. Saturday, the city government has not released the status update of the barangay.

At the regional level, Montejo said that out of 878 cases recorded on Thursday, 709 have been investigated. Out of the 709, 212 cases had a history of travel in areas with local transmission, 358 cases have exposure to COVID-19 patients or suspects, 31 have been traced to the New Davao Matina Gallera derby, 104 cases with exposure to unknown individuals in the community, and four cases related to others events like birthday, wedding, graduation, etc.

Unlike community transmission, cases of local transmission have known exposure to COVID-19 positive cases, said Dr. Rachel Pasion, DOH-Davao’s data management officer.

“For local transmission, it means that the source and transmission can be established. I know the source of my infection,” she said.

Dr. Cleo Fe Tabada, head of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of DOH-11, said she believes the community transmission in the city is still manageable despite the challenges confronting the local government and barangay officials, who the take lead in implementing the quarantine protocols to cut the transmission of COVID-19.

She noted there are a lot of challenges but barangay officials are quite active in implementing instructions on what to do.

She said the DOH regional office hopes residents would disclose their health conditions to local health authorities and immediately seek help from them, so that they can be taken in for treatment. She added it would be  difficult for the local government to handle community transmission if the people would choose to hide their conditions.

“Some of these people are actually — their movement cannot be traced. Secondly, if they are sick or not — we can only help them if they tell us when they are sick but if they hide the symptoms or whatever they have or who their contacts are, if they don’t tell us … it’s quite difficult to handle,” she said.

More COVID-19 cases were recorded after the city  eased travel restrictions.

The entire city was placed under community quarantine from March 15 to April 4, under enhanced community quarantine from April 4 to May 15, general community quarantine from May 16 until June 30, and modified GCQ from July 1 to July 15 but extended until the end of the month.  (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)