‘Our mass graves are ready’ – Mayor Sara

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 Sep) – The mass graves of the city government of Davao at the Tagakpan Public Cemetery in Tugbok District have been prepared in case the number of deaths will rise some more due to the ongoing surge caused by the more infectious variants of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Mayor Sara Duterte said during her program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Monday that 160 spaces are being readied within the public cemetery. Each space can accommodate a total of six cadavers.

“Our mass graves are ready. The operation center of our response cluster is already aware of the readiness of our mass graves,” she said. But Duterte added that not all cadavers of the deceased COVID-19 patients would be buried at the mass graves, provided that family members could arrange for the cremation of the remains on their own.

On May 18 last year, the mayor announced through her radio program that the local government has prepared a “mass grave” for those who would die of COVID-19 at the Tagakpan cemetery. 

A worker points to the designated mass grave area for COVID-19 fatalities at the Tagakpan Public Cemetery in Tagakpan, Tugbok District, Davao City on 22 May 2020, four days after the mayor announced that the local government has prepared a “mass grave” for those who would die of COVID-19. Facing yet another surge, the mayor on September 6, 2021, said the mass grave in this cemetery in Tugbok District would be used once the number of bodies of COVID-19 patients increase to the extent that city government-commissioned crematoriums can no longer accommodate more cadavers. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

As of Sunday, DOH-Davao reported 373 new cases in this city, bringing the total to 40,347, with 6,881 active, 32,214 recoveries, and 1,252 deaths.

The DOH-Davao also reported that of 10 additional Delta variant cases reported on September 6, three came from Davao City, five from Tagum city, one from Pantukan in Davao de Oro, and one from Mati, Davao Oriental.

To date, the region logged a total of 58 Delta cases, 135 Alpha cases, and 297 Beta cases.

Duterte said the government-run Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) has been seeing an influx of COVID-19 cases needing hospital care. As of September 6, SPMC’s 92 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 496 COVID-19 ward beds have been fully occupied.

“The SPMC is already more than their prepared COVID-19 beds, even our TTMFs (temporary monitoring and treatment facilities), we are at 65% but there is an expectation that it will be filled up,” she said.

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

Duterte said the city has 3,084 beds, of which 2,500 beds for isolation and the rest for quarantine. Those patients who are awaiting transfer to TTMFs from their homes will be attended to through the local government’s Caring for Patients Awaiting Transport (CPAT) program. Each patient gets a care kit consisting of digital thermometer, pulse oximeter, Vitamin C, paracetamol, disposable face masks, and alcohol while awaiting transport to the isolation facility.

“Every day, we look for facilities that we can open as TTMFs,” she said.

Duterte added that they are planning to set up an extension facility for emergency room of the SPMC.

“We need to sit down with SPMC and DOH to iron out the details of this possible extension of ER to another location,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)