Davao City hoping to ward off ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 infections

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 March) – The City Government of Davao is intensifying efforts to possibly prevent a “second wave” of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections involving new variants of the virus, which have been blamed for the surging cases in the National Capital Region and Cebu in the Visayas.

In her program over the Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5), Mayor Sara Duterte revealed that local authorities are taking drastic measures this early “so that the surge in NCR and Cebu will not reach the city.”

Her pronouncement came as local health officials noted a decreasing trend in the number of COVID-19 cases beginning the first week of February in Davao City.

As of March 21, Department of Health (DOH)-Davao (DOH) reported 10 new cases in the city, bringing the number of confirmed COVID-19 to 13,532 overall, of which 326 are active, 12,548 are recoveries and 658 have led to deaths.

The mayor stressed that the city will implement the mandatory “test before travel” policy for all in-bound air passengers effective Tuesday, and has intensified its community surveillance and contact-tracing efforts.

Duterte said that passengers must be prevented from boarding the aircraft at the airport of origin if they can’t present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) result, which must be taken within at least 72 hours before flying to the Davao International Airport (DIA)

Passengers with invalid or fake swab test results will need to undergo the RT-PCR test at their own expense, and will face charges for falsification of documents, according to her.

Duterte reported that health authorities here have already conducted more aggressive surveillance efforts in communities to detect individuals who manifest influenza-like symptoms such as fever, colds and cough, and will subject them immediately to RT-PCR test regardless of whether they have been exposed to a positive case or not.

She said the local government is also reviewing the contact-tracing system to immediately locate the close contacts of the index cases.

“This was a major challenge when we had so many cases during our first wave. The contact-tracing was always delayed, and we’re counting days before we’re finally able to track down the close contacts of the positive cases,” Duterte said.

She said that the temporary treatment and monitoring facilities are also on-standby while the local government has committed to purchase more medical equipment, using the city’s disaster funds, for private hospitals as requested by the DOH-Davao.

“We are fast-tracking the procurement so that we can give it to them before the possible second wave,” she said.

Health authorities in the country detected an increasing number of cases of South African and UK variants in the NCR and Cebu, including the latest variant called “P-3” that was first detected in the Philippines.