Davao gears up for possible COVID-19 “mega surge”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 April) – The local government has started a “manhunt” for suspected COVID-19 cases and prepared its isolation and quarantine facilities in anticipation of a possible “mega surge” in infections across the country, Davao City Health Office acting head Dr. Ashley Lopez said.

The first batch of vaccines from China’s Sinovac arrives at Department of Health (DOH)-XI regional compound in Davao City early morning Tuesday (2 March 2021). The boxes reportedly contain a total of 12,000 doses intended for 6,000 people. MindaNews photo

During his program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Wednesday, Lopez said the local government did not discount the possibility that the alarming spike in COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Cebu might happen too in other parts of the country.

“The surge that is happening in NCR and Cebu could involve the whole country. That’s why, we can call it a ‘mega surge’ because it can simultaneously happen across the Philippines,” he said.

Philippine health authorities 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 country.

In a text message on Thursday, Lopez said the city has a bed capacity of 2,500 for COVID-19 patients. He said the temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs) that are currently suspended due to low admissions can be reopened if the need arises.

“We have several TTMFs that are temporarily suspended because of decreasing admissions but if needed to reopen, we have 2,500 more or less, not counting SPMC (Southern Philippines Medical Center) and other hospitals,” he said.

Lopez also encouraged private hospitals to add more COVID-19 beds.

He said there are also plans to expand SPMC, the lone isolation unit in the city for moderate, severe, and critical cases.

Aside from harnessing COVID-19 facilities, Lopez said the city government has implemented the “expanded mandatory testing” of all close contacts, which means second and third generation contacts of an index case will be subjected to a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test.

“We need to look into every possible way that the transmission could happen. We need to trace up any contacts of the index case so we could test them. The more tests we have, the more we can have an accurate situation as far as COVID-19 infections are concerned,” he said.

He said contact-tracers are conducting a “manhunt” to look for undetected active cases in the communities.

“We have to conduct a manhunt — or we have to hunt — every possible COVID suspects that we could get. So that aside from preventing hopefully the entry of new variants, we could also overcome our active cases because we want to lower it down much more, or zero if possible,” he said.

As of March 31, the Department of Health-Davao reported 24 new infections, bringing the total cases to 21,608 with 852 active ones, 19,827 recoveries, and 929 deaths in the region.

Out of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 incidence in Mindanao, tallied 13,741 cases, with 323 active ones, 12,745 recoveries, and 673 deaths.

Davao de Oro reported 1,369 cases, Davao del Norte 3,489, Davao del Sur 1,453, Davao Occidental 220, and Davao Oriental 1,336. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)