Davao, Tagum won’t impose stricter quarantine amid COVID-19 Delta variant detections

Residents who were traced to have been exposed to persons who tested positive of COVID-19 undergo swab tests by City Health Office personnel at Magsaysay Park in Davao City on Friday (June 4, 2021). MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 July) – The local governments of Davao and Tagum will not implement a stricter community quarantine despite the detection of two local cases of the more virulent Delta variant or B.1.617.2, officials said Monday.

From Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) downgraded to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions the quarantine classifications of Davao City last July 16 and Tagum City last July 23, until the end of this month.

Mayor Sara Duterte told Davao City Disaster Radio 87.5 FM on Monday that local authorities did not request the IATF-EID to place the city under a stricter  quarantine classification.

She said the local government would enforce the existing strategies, including strict border protocols, contact tracing, surveillance testing and active case finding to prevent the further spread of the virus.

“Regardless of what variant it is, our response should be intensive and it should not die down because it’s the same COVID-19 and the same pandemic. What’s different with the Delta variant is that it is easily transmissible, which means more people will get infected and more people will need hospital care,” she said.

She noted the medical facilities in countries stricken by the Delta variant, which originally surfaced in India and is now spreading across Indonesia, got overwhelmed with patients needing hospitalization.

Once hospitals get overcrowded, Duterte said infected patients may not be able to receive proper hospital care, resulting in deaths.

According to the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao, the two Delta cases were detected from among the 593 samples sent for genome sequencing by the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit to the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center from June 3 to July 1, 2021.

Aside from Delta, 27 cases of Alpha variant or B.1.1.7 and 50 cases of Beta variant or B.1.351 were also detected in the region with Davao City having four Alpha and five Beta cases; Davao del Sur, four Beta; Davao del Norte, 14 Alpha and 36 Beta; Davao de Oro, two Alpha and two Beta; and Davao Oriental, two Alpha and three Beta.

Dr. Arnel Florendo, head of the Tagum City Health Office, said during a virtual press briefing over the Facebook page of DOH-Davao that a lockdown measure should not be immediately resorted to despite the detection of the Delta variant.

“We have to look at the situation if it is controlled not only for Delta but also for other variants. If it cannot be controlled and our facilities are exhausted, we will execute a lockdown,” he said.

Florendo added the local government must strike a balance between the need to keep the economy running and the enforcement of lockdown to contain the infections.

“It’s automatic that we, on the medical side, are on the side of caution that we need a lockdown, but there are other aspects also that we need to factor in,” he said.

2 Delta cases

The second confirmed local case of the Delta variant or B.1.617.2 in Davao Region was a 28-year-old female in Davao City, who contracted COVID-19 after being exposed to a confirmed positive at her workplace last month, according to Dr. Michelle Schlosser, spokesperson for COVID-19 Task Force of Davao City.

She said that the female patient, who was swabbed last June 26, experienced mild symptoms such as nasal congestion and body pain, but added that she had already recovered from the infection and completed the required 14-day isolation.

She said the Davao City Epidemiology Surveillance and Disaster Response Unit of the City Health Office will conduct reinvestigation, repeat testing and isolation in coordination with DOH-Davao up to the third generation contacts of the case.

Schlosser asked the public to follow the minimum health standards to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The patient is living alone. There were 15 people in her workplace identified as her close contacts and were all swabbed,” she said.

Florendo said Tagum’s first confirmed case of Delta variant – a 22-year-old female frontline worker with no recent travel history – suffered mild symptoms but had recovered from the infection.

Fully vaccinated

Both patients have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before they were tested positive for the virus.

Florendo believed that the vaccination helped prevent severe symptoms in patients hit by the Delta variant.

As of June 25, DOH-Davao reported 52,819 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 7,178 active, 43,903 recoveries and 1,738 deaths.

Out of the total cases, Davao City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mindanao, logged 29,715 cases with 2,514 active, 26,199 recoveries and 1,002 deaths. Davao de Oro tallied 4,138 cases, Davao del Norte with 10,164, Davao del Sur with 4,412, Davao Occidental with 922 and Davao Oriental with 3,468. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)