Davao City to secure borders amid new COVID-19 variant in UK

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 December) — The local government of Davao City is not discounting the possibility of travelers from the United Kingdom (UK), where a new strain of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was recently detected, and other countries to enter the locality through its porous borders, Mayor Sara Duterte said Monday.

Owing to this, Duterte said during the Special Hour with the Mayor over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) that local authorities will discuss strategies on how to deter travelers from abroad from entering the city using backdoor access, in light of the discovery of the more infectious variant of COVID-19 in the UK.

Although international flights have not resumed here, Duterte said the local government is anticipating the entry of travelers from other countries either by land or sea travel.

“Those who are entering the city from other countries will probably come in through the backdoors, probably traveling by land or by banca (motorized boat) from their destination going to our region, and to our city,” she said.

She said the city’s Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency will meet to devise ways on how to prevent travelers from abroad from going into the city undetected.

She did not disclose the date of the meeting as well as the other agencies that will join the meeting.

The new UK variant is worrisome as it can infect more persons than can overwhelm the health system, the mayor noted.

Duterte revealed that local authorities initially discussed establishing a separate facility where overseas travelers arriving in the city will be quarantined for 14 days.

But she said it did not push through after the national government announced it would require travelers from countries with confirmed cases of the new variant to undergo quarantine in the National Capital Region after undergoing a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

To avoid getting infected by the virus, Duterte reminded the public to always observe the proper health and physical distancing protocols.

As the city is still under the general community quarantine status, Duterte said people should stay home if they don’t have work or accessing essential goods or services.

She said that the local government is also anticipating a surge in COVID-19 infections next month due to the gatherings during the Christmas holidays.

Duterte reminded Dabawenyos to celebrate the New Year with family members who live in the same household.

As of December 27, the Department of Health-Davao reported a total of 12,180 COVID-19 cases in the region, with 1,900 active, 9,798 recoveries and 482 deaths.

Of the total cases, Davao City reported 8,564, Davao de Oro with 593, Davao del Norte with 1,500, Davao del Sur with 867, Davao Occidental with 123 and Davao Oriental with 533.