After a drop in new COVID-19 cases, Davao City anticipates “surge soon”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 March) —  Just as the city has been experiencing a drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases, health authorities here say they anticipate a “surge soon”  due to the more infectious South African and UK variants, also known as B.1.351 and B.1.1.7 in the National Capital Region and Central Visayas, Dr. Josephine Villafuerte, head of the city’s COVID-19 vaccination program, said.

“It is also anticipated that Davao (City) will experience a surge soon,” the City Information Office on Saturday quoted Villafuerte as saying.

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Illustration courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The recently retired City Health Officer said Dabawenyos must not be complacent in observing the minimum basic health protocols even if the vaccination program has been rolled out in the city.

Heath secretary Francisco Duque III in a press conference at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) after the symbolic vaccination on Friday said 52 additional South African variant, 31 UK variant, and 42 additional cases with mutations of potential clinical significance were detected  among the ninth batch of 350 samples processed by University of Philippines-Philippine Genome Center.

The vaccination program in the city for frontline health workers kicked off Friday at the SPMC  using the CoronaVac vaccines made by China’s Sinovac Biotech.  The Chinese government donated to the Philippines 600,000 doses, inclusive of 100,000 donated by the Chinese military to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“We encourage everyone to follow safety policies and protocols. And even if you have received your vaccine shots, please continue to be vigilant,” she added.

Out of the 52 additional South African variant cases, the DOH said 41 came from NCR while 11 cases are being verified if they are local or returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs). One case of this variant has already recovered, according to DOH.

It said 28 of the 31 active UK variant cases also came from the NCR while three are being verified if they are local or ROFs.

Last month a 10-year old boy in Davao City became its first case of UK variant of COVID-19 but he has since recovered. Two other cases were detected in Davao de Oro but they have also recovered.

SPMC officer-in-charge Ricardo Audan encouraged frontline health workers to be “responsible” by getting themselves vaccinated regardless of the vaccine’s brand.

Davao City has a total of 33,600 vaccines of Sinovac, which can vaccinate 16,800 health care workers.

In a survey conducted by the SPMC on 1,700 workers, Audan said that at least 85% approved of Sinovac. The SPMC has around 5,900 workers, according to him.

“I encourage you to be vaccinated because that’s the only way to be protected from the virus. Forget about the fears, just be vaccinated and you will be a responsible health care worker,” he said.

As of March 6, the Department of Health-Davao reported 59 new cases in the region, bringing the total cases to 20,245, with 1,242 classified active, 18,146 recoveries, and 857 deaths in the region.

Of the total, Davao City, which holds the highest number of  COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, recorded 13,201 cases, 619 of these active, 11,941 recoveries, and 641 deaths.

Davao de Oro reported 1,178 cases, Davao del Norte 3,029, Davao del Sur 1,369, Davao Occidental 211, and Davao Oriental 1,257. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)