Despite variants, no reimposition of stringent COVID-19 protocols in Davao City

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 Jan) – The local government of Davao will not reimpose the stringent quarantine restrictions following the resurgence of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the capital amid the presence of Delta and Omicron variants, Mayor Sara Duterte said.

Duterte told Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Monday that 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.

The mayor said detection of Omicron virus here is only a matter of time.

She said another wave of COVID-19 infections will certainly come as a result of the holiday frenzy, particularly Christmas and New Year gatherings.

Duterte said the local government COVID-19 Task Force is discussing how many facilities will be activated and when to allow home isolation in the event of surge.

As COVID-19 transmission slowed down, the city lifted the implementation of 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew and 24/7 liquor ban effective October 26 while the ordinance implementing “test before travel” policy for in-bound passengers was lifted last November 16.

Restrictions, including those imposed upon establishments and vulnerable population, further eased when the city shifted to alert level 2 from alert level 3 starting November 15.

The mayor said available isolation facilities for COVID-19 patients, including government and private, are being accounted for in preparation for a post-holiday surge that may likely come on either third or fourth week of this month.

Duterte 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.

The mayor told the public to get their booster shots against the virus.

She said serving of liquor in public remains prohibited, as the virus can be transmitted during drinking sessions.

“That’s one of the activities where there is gathering of people and also one of the activities where people will remove their masks,” Duterte said.

She said people can buy liquors and consume them at home.

On travel restrictions, Duterte said there is no discussion of reviving the “test before travel” policy, requiring inbound passengers to present a “negative” reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result issued 24 to 72 hours before entering Davao City.

“We want people to travel more and want people to travel to Davao City. We are already at 1,230,000 first doses. We have a good number of Dabawenyos who are protected from severe and critical COVID-19 infection,” she said.

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.

As of January 3, Department of Health (DOH)-Davao reported 16 new cases in the city, bringing total cases to 53,930, with 47 active, 52,092 recovered, and 1,791 deaths. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)