Nearly half of Davao City’s active COVID-19 cases waiting to be picked up from their homes

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 June) – As the number coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases here surged to 4,701 as of June 22, nearly half of them can no longer be accommodated to the local government’s already “overwhelmed” temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs) with a total bed capacity of only around 2,500, a local health official said.

Hospitals and temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs) in Davao City can no longer accommodate COVID-19 patients. MindaNews file photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

During his program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5), Dr. Ashley Lopez, acting head of the City Health Office, admitted that the local government is unable to pull out the COVID-19 patients immediately from their homes as the isolation facilities here are either already full or there are no available vehicles to pick them up.

He said at least 90 percent of the total active cases in the city are asymptomatic.

Lopez claimed that delays in picking up the patients would normally last from four to five days.

Despite nearly half of the city’s total active cases waiting for pick up, Mayor Sara Duterte said over DCDR 87.5 last Monday that the city government does not allow “home isolation.”

She said those waiting for pick up in their homes are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms while severe and critical cases are immediately prioritized in the hospitals.

Before the current surge happened, Lopez pointed out that patients only needed to wait up to 48 hours before they could be picked up.

“I admit that there are patients who are not yet ‘extracted’ [from their homes] … because of our situation right now. Rest assured, we are doing all our best efforts to improve on our extraction and transportation of our patients, including all other aspects of COVID operations,” he said.

For active cases awaiting transportation from their homes, Lopez said the local government distributes care kits, which comprises digital thermometer, pulse oximeter, 10 tablets of vitamin C, 5 tablets of paracetamol, disposable face masks, and alcohol, and puts up telemedicine program called “Caring for People Awaiting Transport (CPAT) program.”

He said a group of doctors from the Philippine College of Physicians have volunteered for CPAT to give COVID-19 patients access to teleconsultation and for purposes of monitoring them “to lessen their anxiety and worry” while they await in their homes.

Lopez said the city government is set to open three additional TTMFs. As of 4:48 p.m., the local health chief has yet to respond as to when the new TTMFs would be opened and as to their total number of beds.

Although not yet confirmed by Department of Health (DOH), Lopez said he suspected that the surge of cases in the city was caused by a variant, either UK or South African variant, known for their capability to transmit the infection faster to other people.

“I will not be surprised if this is caused by a variant,” he said.

According to DOH-Davao, total COVID-19 cases in the city reached 22,151 with 16,616 recoveries and 834 deaths.

The mayor said that the local government is not yet discussing whether to revert the quarantine status of the city to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) amid calls to put the city under the most restrictive quarantine status to address the alarming surge.

The city has been placed under Modified ECQ from June 5 until June 30. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)