Davao City targets to swab all ‘close contacts’ in 3-day aggressive community testing

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 Nov) – Health authorities are targeting to swab all “close contacts” of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Davao City in a three-day aggressive community testing (ACT) from December 1 to 3 in an effort to put the massive spread of the infection under control.

Health Undersecretary Adbullah Dumama Jr. says Davao City is all set for the three-day aggressive community testing from December 1 to 3. Screengrab from the PIA-Davao Region Facebook livestream

Health Undersecretary Adbullah Dumama Jr. said during a virtual press conference on Monday that the ACT is an initiative of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and Department of Health undertaken in areas of the country that reported a rapid increase in new COVID-19 cases within a short period of time.

“We want to immediately cut the spread of the virus, and break the chain… by testing, testing, and isolating. This is the backbone of our response. We want to make sure that this is not only in Davao but also nationwide,” he said.

Dr. Evelino Buenaventura, ACT focal person for Davao City Health office, said that the testing center for Talomo Central is located at Shanghai Gymnasium while Toril-A and Toril-B at the Toril-A Health Center on December 1; Talomo South at Central Park Gymnasium, Talomo North at Phase 2 SIR Gymnasium, and District A at Bankerohan Gymnasium on December 2; Buhangin at Buhangin Proper Gymnasium, District B at El Rio Phase 1 Gymnasium, Tugbok at Mintal Gymnasium, and Bunawan at Barangay Ilang Gymnasium on December 3.

“We considered ‘priority areas’ those areas with the highest cases. What we did was, we clustered the barangays with the highest number of cases per health district. But this ACT will target not only the barangays with the highest number of cases but also all areas with reported confirmed COVID-19,” he said.

Similar activities will also be scheduled in other parts of Davao Region such as Digos City and Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur, and cities of Tagum, Panabo, and Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte, Dumama added.

He said the NTF targets to swab 10,000 individuals who have close contacts with confirmed positive cases in the region.

Out of the 10,000, Buenaventura said that local health authorities target 2,300 to 2,800 “close contacts” in the city for the coronavirus test.

Dumama said that test samples collected from massive testing will be processed in Cebu to avoid overwhelming the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) with specimens since the government hospital processes samples not only from the city but from neighboring areas of the region as well.

“In fact, the other day, we learned that SPMC did 2,200 plus samples,” he added.

Dumama noted that the COVID-19 laboratory of the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City in Davao del Norte is not functional yet as of the moment.

He said it was pointless to have the already overloaded SPMC laboratory handle the specimens as the turnaround time will be much longer, rendering ACT useless.

But with Cebu helping out, he said they expect results to come out within 48 hours from the day of the swab test.

Buenaventura said that close contacts who are currently undergoing home quarantine will be picked up from their homes by the service vehicles of the local government or barangays and will be brought to the testing areas.

He said that after getting swabbed, the close contacts can either return home or proceed to designated quarantine facilities pending release of the results.

Buenaventura said patients who turn out positive will be transported to the temporary treatment and monitoring facility.

He added that the quarantine and isolation facilities of the city have a capacity of 1,570 to 2,000 beds.

“We also have the city-identified hotel isolation facilities… because we are doing massive testing and must be prepared for the surge of cases,” he said.

As of November 29, Davao City reported a total of 6,432 cases, Davao de Oro with 456, Davao del Norte with 1,050, Davao del Sur with 700, Davao Occidental with 118 and Davao Oriental with 439.

The entire region has 2,759 in total active cases, 6,085 recoveries, and 351 deaths.

Out of the 6,32 cases in Davao City, 2,222 are active, 3,922 are recoveries, and 288 are deaths. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)