DILG: LGUs can craft policies to prevent spike in COVID-19 cases

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 April) – Local government units (LGUs) can craft their own policies to prevent a spike in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in their areas, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Davao Region said. 

DILG-Davao director Alex Roldan told the Kapehan sa Philippine Information Agency (PIA) on Friday that local government officials have been directed to implement some measures, including encouraging their constituents to wear face masks and practice physical distancing in crowded places, to prevent the spread of the disease and abate the increasing trend of COVID-19  cases in the region.

He said the government would no longer reimpose the strict COVID-19 measures enforced at the height of the pandemic but LGUs are encouraged to take appropriate actions to immediately control the spread of the disease. 

Some commuters ride a jeepney sans their face masks in downtown Davao City in this file photo taken 11 January 2023. The city government is still requiring commuters of public transport to wear face masks. MindaNews Photo

As of April 10, DOH-Davao reported a total of 358 active cases. Out of this total, 208 were reported in Davao City, 53 in Davao de Oro, 37 in Davao Oriental, 27 in Davao del Sur, 21 in Davao del Norte, and 12 in Davao Occidental.

“Nakita nato ang negative effect sa economy when we strictly impalement some rules (We have seen the negative effect on our economy when we strictly implemented some rules),” Roldan said.

He said the public is encouraged to get booster shots from the Department of Health (DOH).

He said the DOH-Davao reported the increase in COVID-19 cases in the region is not alarming.

In Davao City, Mayor Sebastian Duterte signed Executive Order 71 on December 1 adopting Presidential Executive Order 7 of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. allowing voluntary wearing of face masks in “indoor and outdoor settings.”

Under the order, optional or voluntary wearing of face masks does not include the following: healthcare facilities, including but not limited to, clinics, hospitals, laboratories, nursing homes, and dialysis centers; medical transport vehicles such as ambulance, and paramedic rescue vehicles; and public transportation by land, air, or sea.

Wearing of face masks are highly encouraged for elderly, individuals with comorbidities, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women, unvaccinated individuals, and symptomatic individuals.

Section 3 states that the minimum public health standards “intended to effectively prevent and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the city shall continue to be implemented consistent with the principles of shared accountability, evidence-based decision-making, socioeconomic equity, and rights-based approach.”

In a press release issued by the Davao City Information Office on Friday, CHO officer-in-charge Dr. Marjorie Culas, said it is on alert for a possible post-Holy Week increase in COVID-19 cases as the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) is currently in a 100 percent full-bed capacity status.

“We are on alert. If hospital beds are full and cases are high, where would critical patients go? They would need to be admitted to receive immediate medical attention and high-tech facilities,” Culas said.

She said the active cases are mostly asymptomatic and mild.

She said she will meet with representatives of private hospitals on April 18 to discuss the possibility of adding more beds to cater to patients who contract the infection.

Culas said vaccination is available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays at the People’s Park and every Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the People’s Park.

She expressed concern that some commuters are no longer wearing face masks in public utility vehicles. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)