Davao okays ‘home isolation’ as surge in COVID cases overwhelms hospitals

At least four stretchers are parked on the street outside the emergency section of the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City on Sunday morning, 5 September 2021. There is no space for stretchers inside the emergency room packed with patients seeking admission in the state-run hospital which has been receiving an “unusually high volume of patients seeking admission for COVID-19.” From the roadside, one could see a health worker in Personal Protective Equipment performing a cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a patient at the entrance at around 9:15 a.m. MindaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 September) – With local hospitals overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 cases amid the threat from the more contagious Delta variant of the virus, the city government has been forced to allow “home isolation” of COVID-19 patients .

Dr. Michelle Schlosser, focal person for Davao City COVID-19 Task Force, told Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) that the local government was just awaiting guidelines from the Department of Health (DOH) on “home isolation,” a setup which Mayor Sara Duterte previously frowned upon.

But she clarified that health authorities will not allow “home isolation” of all patients.

She said the guidelines will lay down the criteria before active cases will be allowed to isolate at home.

“We need to have guidelines because it doesn’t mean that although we are set to allow home isolation, they can opt for home isolation right away. There should be a conducive place for isolation,” she said.

She said the guidelines may include the requirements of having a separate room with personal bathroom and no other persons who are senior citizens or have comorbidities living in the same residence.

Senior citizens and persons with comorbidities risk developing severe symptoms once they contract the virus, she said.

Schlosser added that the Department of Interior and Local Government requires that only cases who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms will be allowed to undergo “home isolation” while the moderate, severe, and critical ones must be brought to the designated isolation facilities.

She said “home isolation” would only be enforced while there is a surge in cases, many of whom may no longer be accommodated in isolation facilities.

As of September 13, the SPMC reported that its 103 intensive care unit beds and 517 ward beds for COVID-19 patients have been fully occupied.

As of September 7, Duterte reported that the city has 3,084 beds, of which 2,500 beds are for isolation and the rest are for quarantine.

As of September 14, DOH-Davao reported 712 new cases in the city, bringing the total to 44,362, with 9,183 active, 33,836 recoveries, and 1,343 deaths.

Schlosser admitted that there was a delay in transporting active cases from their homes to the isolation facilities due to the ongoing surge.

She said those who could not be picked up right away are being attended to through the local government’s Caring for Patients Awaiting Transport program. Through this program each patient gets a care kit consisting of a digital thermometer, pulse oximeter, vitamin C, paracetamol, disposable face masks, and alcohol while awaiting transport to an isolation facility.

The DOH-Davao confirmed the detection of 36 additional Delta variant cases last September 13, of which 32 are local transmissions, one is a returning overseas Filipino, and three were tested and sequenced by other regions and were still for verification.

To date, the DOH-Davao reported a total of 537 cases of variants of concern: Alpha variant, 139 cases; Beta, 304 cases; and Delta, 94 cases.

Of this total, the agency said 456 were tagged as clinically recovered and 49 died.

There are two active variant cases, and 30 others are still under investigation, according to DOH-Davao. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)