Davao City’s COVID-19 positivity rate increases

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 5 Jan) – Davao City’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) positivity rate jumped to 1.6% as of January 2 from an average of 0.5% reported in the previous weeks, a local health official said.

The gathering of people during the holidays, like the tightly packed crowd at the Bankerohan Market on New Year’s Eve, was among those blamed for the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. 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 city, which reported a high vaccination rate, started seeing a significant increase in the number of new COVID-19 infections at the start of 2022.

She said despite the increase, the positivity rate remains below of 5%, the threshold considered by the World Health Organization as acceptable. Positivity rate refers to the proportion of people who test positive in the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test.

Schlosser said daily new cases doubled to 32 on Tuesday from 16 on Monday based on the report released by the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao. 

Total cases in Davao City were reported at 53,962 with 76 active, 52,095 recovered, and 1,791 dead.

“Unfortunately, for the past two days, our digits have doubled. We are expecting our cases to go up,” she said.

Schlosser said it could not be conclusively determined if the rising cases are driven by the highly infectious Omicron since no case of such variant has been detected in the city so far.

More transmissible than Delta, the Omicron variant is expected to cause exponential rise in COVID-19 cases, according to Schlosser.

She said that local authorities would try to mitigate the risk of a “massive surge” to avoid collapse of the healthcare system here.

The surge of new cases, Schlosser pointed out, is expected to start by the third or fourth week this month as a consequence of the various social gatherings over the recent holidays.

She urged Dabawenyos to get their booster shots to give themselves another layer of protection from the virus.

As of December 31, the City Government of Davao reported a total of 1,230,245 individuals vaccinated with the first dose and 1,137,586 fully vaccinated against the virus. The government reported 28,155 individuals who received their booster shots.

She said booster shots are being offered to A1 or health workers, A2 or senior citizens, A3 or persons with comorbidities, and A4 or essential workers.

Hundreds flock to a vaccination hub at People’s Park in Davao City on Wednesday (5 January 2022) for booster shots as health officials are alarmed with the increase in COVID-19 cases just after the holidays and with the threat posed by the Omicron variant. Mindanews Photo

“It’s very important that we get it now that we are anticipating a surge and we are also anticipating the coming of the Omicron variant. There are studies that show vaccines work against Omicron,” she said.

Schlosser said vaccines work to prevent people from getting severe and critical cases of COVID-19.

Last Monday, Mayor Sara Duterte, during her program over DCDR 87.5, said she hopes that the anticipated surge will not cause severe and critical COVID-19 cases that will overwhelm hospitals, which will result in the deaths of patients who will not get access to health care.

She said local authorities are anticipating that the highly transmissible Omicron variant will find its way to the city regardless of what restrictions the local government will put in place.

“When it comes to Omicron, our expectation is it will enter because the virus is invisible and it has a long incubation period of 14 days. It could be that you are already carrying the virus on day 1 and you do not test positive,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)