No need to prepare mass grave in Davao City amid COVID surge – official

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

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 January) – There is no need to prepare a mass grave in Davao City as the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 has remained low amid the ongoing surge of infections, an official of the local COVID-19 Task Force said.

Dr. Michelle Schlosser, task force spokesperson, told Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Friday that the data suggest that the current surge may not likely cause more deaths from Omicron, the fastest-spreading variant of COVID-19 compared with the death rate during previous surges attributed to the Delta variant.

Schlosser said local health experts believe that the rate of infections is already driven by the Omicron, which is characterized by a sharp rise in the number of cases over a short period of time.

The Department of Health (DOH) reported 10 new cases of the Omicron variant in the region on January 27. The agency’s regional office has yet to release details on the latest cases of this variant, including their statuses.

To date, there are 15 Omicron cases in the region, including the fully recovered five cases who were reported last January 20.

DOH-Davao reported 1,828 who died from COVID-19 as of January 27, or 37 deaths since the start of the year.

The agency reported 975 new infections on Thursday, which brought the total cases to 66,552, with 9,973 active and 54,751 recoveries.

“There is no preparation for a mass grave. If you notice, we have a high number of cases but data are showing that we only reported a few deaths compared with our surge before,” Schlosser said.

Last year, the local government of prepared mass graves at the Tagakpan Public Cemetery in Tugbok District amid the surge in Delta cases.

Schlosser said the low mortality rate might have been due to the high vaccination rate.

The city government reported that as of January 18, there were 1,276,123 individuals vaccinated with the first dose, 1,216,990 who were fully vaccinated, and 136,526 others had received booster shots.

According to its website, the city government has 25 operational vaccination sites as of Jan. 15.

Schlosser said anti-COVID-19 vaccines prevent individuals from getting hospitalized, explaining that fully vaccinated people who experience breakthrough infections experience mild or no symptoms of the virus.

She said the local task force is prepared for the “worst scenario” in case the number of deaths rise significantly.

“As much as possible, we would like to avoid death in any surge. If we will have another surge with another variant after this, we will try to avoid death. If we cannot avoid another surge, at least we will avoid death,” she said. According to the government-run Southern Philippines Medical Center, 64 of its 87 intensive care unit beds have been occupied while its 422-ward bed for positive patients have been fully utilized. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)