Davao City to do ‘surveillance swabbing’ in high-risk areas

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 March) – Mayor Sara Duterte ordered local health authorities to conduct a regular “surveillance swabbing” in high-risk areas of Davao City, and to increase the number of tests to at least 1,000 a day.

Duterte, during her program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Monday, said that individuals are encouraged to “self-monitor” for any signs and symptoms of influenza-like illness like fever and cough.

She urged the public to get themselves immediately tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) if they experience any of the symptoms.

“Dabawenyos should self-monitor for symptoms. There is nothing to fear because we have COVID-19 facilities whether you are asymptomatic or mild. If you are severe or moderate, we have hospital for you. Once you recover, then you can go home,” the mayor said.

She said the city government offers a free swab test.

Duterte said health authorities have been directed to jack up the number of daily tests from the current average of between 400 and 600 tests to 1,000 in order to capture the individuals who are positive for the infection in communities.

As of March 29, Barangay 15-B has been classified as a “critical risk” area while Barangays 27-C, 38-D, Bago Gallera, Mintal, and their adjacent Barangays of 14-B, Agdao Proper, Kapt. Tomas Monteverde, Sr. in Agdao as “high-risk” until April 3.

Duterte said the local government has assured sufficient supply of testing kits. The three COVID-19 laboratories operating in the city are Southern Philippines Medical Center, molecular laboratory at Davao International Airport, and private-owned Davao One World Diagnostic Center.

“We can see that our number of cases are going down, but we should not wait for it to go back up again. What we are going to do is to undertake a surveillance of influenza-like illness,” she said.

Persons who have influenza-like illness must be tested immediately, she said.

Under Executive Order 18 released last Friday, the close contacts of persons suffering from influenza-like illness would be closely monitored and that they would be swabbed if any of the symptoms develop.

Individuals showing flu symptoms will be subjected to mandatory home quarantine while waiting for their RT-PCR test results, it added. Those who will test negative for COVID-19 will be released from home quarantine once they recover from flu, except when they need to work or do business.

She directed contact tracers, Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) and Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) to refer individuals manifesting flu symptoms for swabbing.

Duterte ordered health authorities to make regular schedule of surveillance swabbing in business and commercial establishments; public places, including, among others, wet markets, supermarkets, and stores; government offices; private offices and agencies; closed facilities such as Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bahay Pag-asa, Home for the Aged, and orphanage; and other barangays and areas deemed high risk by the City Health Office.

As of March 29, the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region reported 25 new cases, bringing the total cases to 21,472, with 874 active, 19,681 recoveries, and 917 deaths in the region.

Out of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, tallied 13,695 cases, with 318 active, 12,710 recoveries, and 667 deaths. Davao de Oro reported 1,349 cases, Davao del Norte with 3,441, Davao del Sur with 1,448, Davao Occidental with 220, and Davao Oriental with 1,319. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)