Returning residents in Davao Region breach quarantine, infect kin

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 July) — Davao Region has COVID-19 patients who got infected by returning residents who breached their 14-day home quarantine, an official of the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao said.

During a virtual presser on Friday, Dr. Cleo Fe Tabada, head of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of DOH-Davao, confirmed that the returning residents who turned out positive for the virus infected their family members by breaking the self-isolation protocols.

Inbound passengers at the Davao International Airport. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

“Yes, we’ve had instances that a positive go home and those at the households become positive also. How are they breaching protocol? Some of the returning residents are able to return straight home, although the general protocol now is — it has improved actually — all those arriving residents must be isolated wherever they might come from,” she said.

Recent COVID-19 cases of the region came mostly from returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) while cases of local transmissions have likewise increased significantly.

As of July 23, DOH-Davao reported 46 new cases, bringing the total to 1,064 with 44 deaths and 574 recoveries.

Of the total cases, 746 are in Davao City, 105 in Davao del Norte, 45 in Davao del Sur, 71 in Davao de Oro, 83 in Davao Oriental, and 14 in Davao Occidental.

Of the new cases, 33 were local transmissions, four were subject to verification, six were LSIs, and three were ROFs.

But Tabada could not readily ascertain if the latest spike in local transmissions could be associated with persons who got infected by returning family members who had breached isolation protocols.

“It’s difficult to associate directly, but we have such cases. The numbers are not specific as to how many in the households got infected due to the breach because we cannot enter their houses 24/7,” she said.

She added that such breach was being reported even by “the community, neighbors, and sometimes other members of the households” of the returning residents.

“We were unable to adequately document that. But what we’re seeing is that a person who is found positive and then both contacts became also positive, or those that he came in close contact with before being put in isolation,” she said.

She said personnel from Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams and local government units (LGUs) are monitoring daily if they manifest symptoms of COVID-19.

She said the returning residents can choose to stay in the isolation facilities prepared by the LGUs if their houses do not have separate spaces for quarantine.

“If the household is able to maintain a quarantine protocol by having a single room with a comfort room and they are separate from their families, that will be allowed because our accommodation facilities are not enough but, of course, the preference again is at the facility,” she said.

The local government of Davao previously required all inbound flight passengers to present negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results issued within 72 hours from scheduled departure.

The requirement was relaxed following complaints from several passengers that it was rigid, allowing them to fly to the city even without negative RT-PCR test results.

Effective July 22, all passengers would be swabbed at the Davao International Airport, at the expense of the local government, and would not be allowed to leave unless negative test results come out within 24 hours.

All entry and exit points have also devised a screening tool to detect passengers who may have traveled by land to the city after arriving from other airports in Mindanao, according to Mayor Sara Duterte. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)