Davao City prepares for post-holidays COVID surge

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Dec) – The City Government of Davao is preparing for the worst as local health experts are anticipating a surge in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases with Dabawenyos breaking minimum public health standards (MPHS) amid the holiday frenzy.

Davaoeños flock to the Bankerohan Market for their last minute Christmas shopping. Mindanews Photo

Dr. Michelle Schlosser, spokesperson for Davao City COVID-19 Task Force, told Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Wednesday that the low positivity rate, averaging at 0.3% the past few days, may jack up suddenly as more people flock to crowded places for shopping and attend holiday gatherings.

“This holiday is the time of the year when it’s difficult for people to follow health standards because of the shopping rush and gatherings. Just a reminder to everyone, even if we have the lowest positivity rates the past months, our enemy is still there,” she said.

Schlosser said that if Dabawenyos continue to be undisciplined, a surge will likely occur next year despite the city having a high vaccination rate against COVID-19.

The response cluster of the task force, she said, has been alerted of the anticipated surge, employing the same strategies as before for the detection, isolation, treatment, vaccination, and border control.

More COVID-19 facilities are on standby and will be reopened if need arises, Schlosser said.

“Although we are not wishing for it but it is highly possible that we can have another surge…. We’re always on guard. Although we have few cases, but we are enforcing strictly protocols,” she said.

She admitted that the local government could not impose stricter measures other than those recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) for areas under alert level 2.

“We will just continue to remind them to follow the minimum public health standards. Those who will not follow will be reprimanded,” Schlosser stressed.

Last Monday, Mayor Sara Duterte said a surge of cases will likely occur due to Christmas and New Year gatherings and the new variant of COVID-19.

“I asked the health group of the response cluster if there will be a surge next year. And the answer was, yes, there will be a surge. What we don’t know is how big or how deadly it would be, meaning how many will die with the incoming surge,” she said.

The mayor said the high vaccination rate may not prevent a surge from happening as the vaccines will only help keep symptoms of COVID-19 “mild,” which means transmission of the infection among the fully vaccinated individuals is still possible.

According to DOH-Davao, the city reported two new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total cases to 53,904 with 59 active, 52,054 recoveries, and 1,791 deaths. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)