DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 5 May) – At least 12 public transport utility vehicle (PUV) drivers in Davao City tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the “Swab Drive-Thru” at the Davao Crocodile Park grounds.
Dr. Ashley Lopez, City Health Office acting head, said in his program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Wednesday that the active cases were detected from among 2,300 drivers who have so far been tested through the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test from April 26 to May 3 as part of the intensified community surveillance of the local government.
He said this could be one of the reasons for the spread of the infection in the community since the majority of the Dabawenyos are public commuters.
“This is one of the factors that could potentially spread the infection because the majority of us don’t own private vehicles, so the majority of the workers will have to rely on public transport,” Lopez said.
He added that even PUV drivers are vulnerable to the risk of getting infected due to their interaction with passengers, particularly those “asymptomatic” who ride the PUVs.
Lopez noted that about 90 percent of those infected with COVID-19 are “asymptomatic.”
The “Swab Drive-Thru” is a 12-day free swab testing that started last April 26 until May 8 for the taxicab drivers, van drivers, jeepney drivers, habal-habal or motorcycle drivers, tricycle drivers, bus drivers, other drivers of public ground transport vehicles, and motorcycle drivers of food and online item delivery services in the city.
In her Executive Order No. 22, Mayor Sara Duterte pointed out that the “risk of infection is associated with sitting in proximity to an index case, duration of time aboard, inadequate ventilation, consequential recirculation of contaminated air especially in air-conditioned public transport vehicles, the widespread use of potentially contaminated barriers to achieve social distancing and contaminated surfaces like handrails, doorknobs, seats, etc., and the countless number of possible infected passengers getting in and out of the vehicle.”
Lopez said they are contemplating on extending the “Swab Drive-Thru” because only 2,300 drivers had taken the swab test out of their target of 20,000.
As of May 4, the Department of Health-Davao reported 69 new cases, bringing the total cases to 23,613, with 874 active, 21,752 recoveries, and 987 deaths in the region.
Out of the total, Davao City, which has the highest COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, tallied 14,620 cases, with 356 active, 13,573 recoveries, and 691 deaths. Davao de Oro reported 1,583 cases, Davao del Norte with 4,149, Davao del Sur with 1,594, Davao Occidental with 232, and Davao Oriental with 1,435. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)