New spike in COVID-19 cases seen in some areas in Davao Region due to holiday gatherings

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Dec) – A spike in new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been reported in some areas in the region due to the recent holiday gatherings, according to the Department of Health (DOH) in Davao Region.

Dr. Cleo Fe Tabada, head of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of DOH-Davao, said during a virtual press conference streamed live over the Facebook page of the Philippine Information Agency- Davao Region that the recent spike was blamed on persons who disregarded basic health protocols.

She said health authorities have been reminding the public to strictly follow basic health protocols to stem the spread of the infection as the former anticipated more people to move around for the holiday festivities.

Tabada added that although the rate of increase region-wide appear to be going down, some municipalities and barangays, which previously reported zero or low COVID-19 cases, are now grappling with a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“It’s better to look at it by municipality because they have varying characteristics, varying protocols, and varying movements of the people in different places where they gather and why they gather,” she said.

The daily regional situation update on COVID-19 of DOH-Davao does not show a breakdown of the cases per city/municipality but only a general case distribution for Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, and Davao City.

As of December 28, Department of Health-Davao reported a total of 12,209 COVID-19 cases in the region, with 1,839 active, 9,883 recoveries, and 487 deaths.

Of the total cases, Davao City reported 8,592, Davao de Oro with 593, Davao del Norte with 1,501, Davao del Sur with 867, Davao Occidental with 123, and Davao Oriental with 533.

Mart Sambalud, information officer of the Municipality of Santo Tomas, said on Tuesday that the local government there has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, with 19 active out of 69 total cases with one death as of Tuesday.

“There is spike actually. We used to have eight or nine [active cases] but now 19,” he added.

Sambalud urged the public to have a “defensive mindset against COVID-19” by strictly following all health protocols of the local government on top of the public minimum health standards.

“The government has invested and poured a lot of resources; mounted creative and unique messaging campaign to ensure that our message reaches the right audience who are active in the social media, and recalibrated our approaches in the grassroots communities to really enforce our protocols and above all, ensure the public’s health and welfare,” he added.

Recent infections were reported among groups of people who attended gatherings, according to Tabada.

“What we’ve been reminding people is for us to be careful because we know that we’re so good at throwing a celebration and then we gather. We released an advisory reminding them of how we can still enjoy while not seeing a spike in our cases,” she said.

Tabada said that despite the agency’s incessant reminders, there were groups who held parties, which raised the risks of transmission among attendees.

She said the reported recent surge of infections came in not just by individual cases but also by groups.

“One case infecting another does not really cause a spike but what we’ve been seeing now is that when one case joins a group of people, more people will get infected,” Tabada stressed.

Social gatherings could worsen the transmission of the COVID-19 cases in Davao Region, she noted.

She said some parts of the region with low or no confirmed cases have started seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases.

On Monday, President Rodrigo R. Duterte extended the implementation of a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in Davao City, Lanao del Sur, Iligan City, and Davao del Norte until January 31, 2021.

Other areas in the country to remain under GCQ are the National Capital Region, Isabela, Santiago City, Batangas, and Iloilo City. The rest of the country will be in Modified GCQ. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)