3 weeks under GCQ, Davao City’s COVID-19 cases still rising

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 December) –  COVID-19 cases here continue to rise despite the reversion to the more restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ)  since November 20.

In three weeks under GCQ, the total number of cases  has risen by 1,900  –  from 5,607 on November 20 to 7,507 on December 12, records from the Department of Health’s Center for Health Development in the Davao region show.

It took the city six and a half months from the start of the lockdown in mid-March to reach that number of cases.  A review of the DOH records show that on September 29, the city recorded a total of 1,916 cases, up from 1,861 a day earlier.

Eighty-eight deaths were also reported in three weeks – from 248 on November 20 to 336 on December 12.  It took six and a half months from mid-March before the COVID-19 deaths in the city reached 88 on September 27.

As of December 12, the city recorded a total of  7,507 cases. Of this number, 1,946 or 25.92%  are active cases; 5,225 or 69.6% are recoveries  and 336 or 4.47% are deaths.

Never ECQ

Asked if he would recommend a return to the more restrictive Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to arrest the surge of COVID-19 cases,

Dr. Ashley Lopez, focal person for COVID-19 of the Department of Health in the city told MindaNews on Saturday:  “Never na ta mag-revert to ECQ (We will never revert to ECQ). We will maintain GCQ until such time we will control COVID cases in Davao City.”

“All mitigating measures are being done, from preventive aspect to tracing, isolation and treatment. Compared to past two weeks, we somehow reduced the total cases by as much as half,” he said.

DOH records that MindaNews reviewed show that on Week 1 of the GCQ (Nov. 20 to 26), the city’s total number of cases rose by 506, from 5,607 to 6,113; on Week 2 (Nov. 27 to Dec. 3), it went up to 6,754 or 641 more; on Week 3 (Dec. 4 to 10),  it reached 7,319 or 565 more and on the first two days of Week 4 (Dec. 11 and 12),  it rose to 7,507 or 188 more cases.

Last month, doctors’ groups and hospital directors here jointly  appealed to Mayor Sara Duterte and the Regional Inter Agency Task Force on COVID-19 to declare a two-week city-wide lockdown immediately to limit movement of residents as the healthcare system here  was getting “overwhelmed” with COVID-19 cases.

Very alarming but…

But while National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez acknowledged in the November 18  meeting in Davao City of the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team and the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force and Regional Task Force that the COVID-19 situation  in the city was “very alarming,” he ruled out placing the city under ECQ or Modified ECQ.

Galvez instead recommended a reversion to GCQ, claiming the more restrictive ECQ or MECQ are not sustainable as there is a need to balance the economy and welfare of the people.

He said putting the city under the strictest form of quarantine classification will dampen its economy, and will be costly on the part of the local government since it has to support the food requirements of its residents during two-week lockdown.

“I will not be recommending ECQ for the purpose of two weeks because that two-week period will not have an immediate effect. If any, you will see an effect by December, maybe,” he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)