Over one-third of COVID-19 cases in Davao Region are returning residents

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 August) – Close to 35 percent or 639 of the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Davao Region were returning residents who arrived from May 16 until August 19, an official of the Department of Health (DOH) regional office said.

During a virtual press briefing, Dr. Cleo Fe Tabada, head of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of DOH-Davao, said that of this total, 193 were returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and 446 were locally stranded individuals (LSIs).

The region has so far recorded a total of 32,957 LSIs and ROFs.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte visits the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) XI Isolation Facility along C.P. Garcia Highway, Friday afternoon. 07 August 2020. The mayor participated in the simulation of handling incoming air passengers who will await their RT-PCR test results as required by the city government. Photo courtesy of the City Government of Davao FB page

Based on Tabada’s report, the region started seeing a spike in the number of COVID-positive returning residents in July with 381 and in the first 19 days of August with 171. The figure for May was 16 and for June 71.

Tabada recently welcomed the ordinance passed by the city council imposing a fine of P5,000 on any person, including LSIs and ROFs, who will violate the mandatory 14-day home quarantine, saying it will help manage the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

She lamented that the ordinance continued to be violated resulting in more COVID-19 transmissions in the city.

Authored by Davao City 3rd District Councilor Mary Joselle D. Villafuerte, the ordinance seeks “to penalize all persons violating the mandatory 14-day home quarantine for COVID-19 imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or any public health authority authorized to impose the same.”

Section 5 provides that the mandatory 14-day home quarantine shall apply to all asymptomatic returning OFWs, whether sea-based or land-based, subject to arrangements, and rules and regulations imposed by the governing authority; asymptomatic ROFs and holder of permanent resident visas; asymptomatic LSIs;

asymptomatic healthcare workers with unprotected exposure, defined as working in a healthcare facility with confirmed COVID-19 within the last 14 days without appropriate PPE; asymptomatic non-healthcare workers who test IgM positive in rapid tests, are required to undergo isolation at home or at a community quarantine facility for 14 days; and other such cases which require mandatory 14-day home quarantine as prescribed by law.

The ordinance says the DOH Center for Health Development Davao, City Health Office, Davao City Police Office, punong barangay and respective Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams will handle the implementation and monitoring. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)