Davao’s health chief recommends facility-based quarantine for passengers from NCR, Cebu

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 31 March) – The acting head of the Davao City Health Office (CHO), Dr. Ashley Lopez, has proposed the implementation of the mandatory 14-day facility-based quarantine for inbound passengers from the National Capital Region (NCR) and Cebu province.

Davao City during the pandemic. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Lopez, during his program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5), said that he hopes that the local COVID-19 Task Force would take cognizance of his proposal as an additional precaution to avoid the entry of the new variants of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases here.

He explained that the “negative” reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test requirement, which has been re-implemented since March 23, may not be sufficient to detect the positive cases among air passengers since the incubation period of the virus would normally take days before it could become “clinically significant” for it to be detected.

He said the quarantine must be done at a facility to be designated by the local government.

“It’s better to put them in a quarantine facility. The incubation period is 14 days. For example, if you tested negative in Manila but your testing fell on the second or third day [from exposure], it’s just natural that you would test negative, and you have no manifestation [of the infection]. When you come to Davao, the symptoms would manifest only… on the seventh day,” he said.

Lopez added that he feared it would be difficult to contain the spread of the virus if inbound passengers would pass the airport screening based on the “negative” virus test results taken within 72 hours before departure to Davao.

“The timing is very important in testing. If we really want to contain the COVID-19 infection, including the new variants, inbound passengers from Cebu and Manila must be put in quarantine,” he said.

He recommended the opening of more quarantine facilities, including the 68-bed Crown Regency Residences Davao, as he does not recommend the 14-day home quarantine for arriving air passengers because of their tendency to violate the rule.

He added that possible violations of the quarantine could not be disregarded, especially when there have been arriving air passengers who have shown “bad intention” by using fake RT-PCR test results.

As of March 31, City Tourism Office head Generose Tecson, who is also concurrent head of the Airport Monitoring Team, said a total of 15 passengers presented fake virus test results since March 23.

“It’s dangerous to have the quarantine at home. Although there are instructions, they cannot be closely monitored one-by-one. We don’t know if they may have gone shopping in malls or to the wet markets. There is also risk of transmission inside our homes if we miss a single index case,” Lopez said.

As of March 31, the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region reported 112 new cases, bringing the total cases to 21,584 with 901 active, 19,760 recoveries, and 923 deaths in the region.

Out of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, tallied 13,738 cases, with 335 active, 12,733 recoveries, and 670 deaths. Davao de Oro reported 1,366 cases, Davao del Norte with 3,471, Davao del Sur with 1,453, Davao Occidental with 220, and Davao Oriental with 1,336. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)