Mayor Sara wants to fast-track vaccination amid emergence of new variants

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 March) – Mayor Sara Duterte wanted to expedite the vaccination of frontline health workers here against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) amid potential surge due to the emergence of the highly infectious South African and UK variants in the National Capital Region and Cebu.

Mayor Sara Duterte. Photo from the City Government of Davao Facebook page

The mayor said during her program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Monday that she hopes that more healthcare workers in the hospitals, including medical laboratories and other allied institutions, will be inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines to lessen the risk of contracting the virus or develop serious complications.

“We need to fast-track the vaccination of our health care workers. Although there is a possibility that they would still contract the virus, at least it will be just be mild. We need to make sure that they will get vaccinated when they come face-to-face with the virus, so that they will have some sort of protection,” she said.

The Davao Region received a total of 33,600 vaccines developed by Sinovac, which could vaccinate 16,800 frontline health workers.

Even after the local government has managed to control the spike in new COVID-19 cases beginning first week of February, the mayor said the local government anticipated another surge due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in NCR and Cebu blamed for the presence of the new variants.

“The places that reported high cases will most likely be the potential source. If there is a source in Metro Manila and Cebu, mostly likely, they will be our sources of cases… because of freedom to travel between cities and municipalities,” she said.

She said that it’s important for residents to stay at home and strictly observe the basic health protocols to avoid contracting the infection.

She added that a second wave may come in two to three months if the local government will further ease out the implementation of quarantine restrictions in the city such as lifting curfew and liquor ban, and removing the alternative work arrangement, after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) adopted a resolution enforcing uniform travel protocols.

Under the resolution, she said the issuance of a travel authority and negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results are no longer required.

The latest IATF-EID resolution has, in effect, lifted the classification of the city as a “restricted” local government unit, according to Duterte.

“We need to give more emphasis on the minimum public health standards because we don’t want to stop people from working or doing businesses, and we don’t want to close offices and establishments,” Duterte said.

As of March 8, the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region reported nine new cases, bringing the total cases to 20,317, with 1,35 active, 18,222 recoveries, and 860 deaths in the region.

Out of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, tallied 13,231 cases, with 615 active, 11,973 recoveries, and 643 deaths. Davao de Oro reported 1,186 cases, Davao del Norte with 3,051, Davao del Sur with 1,373, Davao Occidental with 212, and Davao Oriental with 1,264. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)