Davao extends, expands “swab drive-thru” for COVID-19

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 May) – The “swab drive-thru” at the Davao Crocodile Park grounds has been extended for six months or from May 17 until November 17, as the city government ramps up its community surveillance testing to detect more active coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

‘Swab Drive-Thru’ at the Davao Crocodile Park. MindaNews photo

Dr. Ashley Lopez, acting head of the Davao City Health Office said in an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) Thursday, that the “swab drive-thru” would no longer be exclusive to drivers of public utility vehicles and online food delivery services, but will include other businesses and establishments whose workers need to undergo swabbing.

He said the extension came after several companies suggested the site because it is more spacious and convenient than the Sta. Ana Health Center, which has become congested with referrals from various barangays in the city.

“They asked if we can retain the Crocodile Park because it’s spacious and there’s fresh air. You can take a rest while waiting for your turn to be swabbed. There is also no problem about the parking area,” he added.

To decongest Sta. Ana Health Center, Lopez said district health offices have been directed to open swab units to cater to their residents who show symptoms of influenza-like illness like cough, fever, and colds in the communities.

He said the local government plans to open another swab site either in People’s Park or Rizal Park for people in the city’s central business district to complement the “swab drive-thru in the Davao Crocodile Park.

But Lopez added that the local government needs to employ additional swabbers.

Opened on April 26, Lopez claimed the the first-ever “swab drive-thru” was well-received by residents.

He said the swab site will be open from Monday to Saturday.

He added the local health authorities have observed an increasing trend in COVID-19 cases in the last six days.

He said the increase might also be attributed to the expanded testing capacity of the local government.

“In general, our positivity rate is low. When your positivity rate is low, you have low community transmission. There is no evidence yet on the transmission from returning OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) nor there is evidence of transmission coming from possible variants,” he said.

He said the local government is anticipating a surge in local infections.

“We’ve been expecting a surge from the National Capital Region and Visayas. It appeared that it has already made its way to some parts of Mindanao because we have spiking cases in Zamboanga City and Cagayan de Oro,” he noted.

He said new variants have also been reported in General Santos City in Region 12, while increasing cases have been noted in Tagum City in Davao del Norte.

“The possibility of affecting Davao City is not totally farfetched,” he warned.

As of May 12, the Department of Health-Davao reported 105 new infections, bringing the total cases to 24,469, with 1,316 active ones, 22,144 recoveries, and 1,009 deaths in the region.

Of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 incidence in Mindanao, tallied 14,986 cases, with 532 active ones, 13,752 recoveries, and 702 deaths.

Davao de Oro reported 1,677 cases, Davao del Norte 4,456, Davao del Sur 1,634, Davao Occidental 240, and Davao Oriental 1,476. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)