Davao confident it can handle surge caused by UK variant of COVID-19

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 January) – The city government expressed confidence it could deal with a surge caused by a similar, more infectious variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that was first detected in the United Kingdom, Health COVID-19 focal person Dr. Ashley Lopez said.

In a text message on Thursday, Lopez said the city has 12 isolation facilities and 11 quarantine facilities, which included three hotels designated as temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs), with a total combined capacity of around 2,500.

The isolation facility of the state-owned Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

In his program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Wednesday, he said that the average occupancy rate of the facilities ranged from 46% to 50% daily, even with the ongoing post-holiday surge which started to kick in on January 4 and is expected to last until mid-February.

“Half of the facilities are vacant. We still have sufficient facilities that can accommodate the unexpected surge caused, most especially, by the new variant which was blamed for the surge in the UK. If this will happen to Davao – God forbid – we are ready in terms of isolation and quarantine facilities,” he added.

He said the city government is also preparing another hotel and a school to be designated as COVID-19 facilities but added that the high critical care utilization rate at the government-run Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the primary hospital catering to COVID-19 patients, is worrying.

He said the regular COVID-19 beds of SPMC are 70% to 85% occupied daily while the 30-bed intensive care unit of the hospital is always at the critical level, from 90% to 100%.

Lopez disclosed that the SPMC plans to add 10 ICU beds to cater to more patients.

“The planning is ongoing and they are looking for a budget but the good thing is there is already an ongoing plan to expand SPMC,” he said.

The SPMC will only cater to moderate, critical and severe COVID-19 patients while the mild-symptomatic and asymptomatic ones will be referred to the TTMFs.

As of January 27, the Department of Health-Davao reported 202 new cases, bringing the total to 16,665 with 2,670 active ones, 13,320 recoveries, and 675 deaths.

Of the total, Davao City reported 11,266, with 9,226 recoveries and 533 deaths. Davao de Oro reported 872, Davao del Norte 2,354, Davao del Sur 1,189, Davao Occidental 185, and Davao Oriental 799. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)