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Davao City readies hospitals for renewed infection surge

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte

DAVAO CITY—City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio assuaged the public that hospitals here are on preparation mode for any eventuality for another surge of infection of the delta, or Indian variant of the Covid-19 virus.

She said the public could make a big contribution by complying with, at least, the minimum health protocol to weather away the threat, whose current monitoring nearest the city is in Cagayan de Oro City in northern Mindanao.

The city though, was still grappling with an ongoing surge, the second this year, the first in early this year, when cases reached more than 200 cases daily, which eventually was brought down to less than 20 cases by April. A month later, cases shot up anew, averaging to about 400 cases in the last two weeks.

The lone hospital dedicated to receiving Covid-19 patients, the government-run Southern Philippines Medical Center, has been teetering on almost full capacity, and at one point early this year, the city has asked some private hospitals to open up for Covid-19 admission.

Mayor Sara has designated the SPMC as the sole Covid-19 receiving hospital and has asked private hospitals not to accept any Covid-19 cases and to refer them only to the SPMC. She said this was intended to refrain infecting the private sector with the virus and to have the city a standby health force for any eventuality, including a surge in cases.

Aside from the SPMC, the city has a current inventory of 2,433 isolation rooms and scattered around the city, which were formerly private inns and motels, barangay and city government buildings. In allowing the return of overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs), the city has also persuaded hotels to open up as holding and isolation facilities for them.

The mayor said there were 1,078 hotel rooms prepared for these purpose.

“We are preparing the hospitals in case of a surge by this delta variant,” she said in her regular public affairs portion of the city government-run dcDR radio on Monday. In asking the public for a more dedicated observance of the health protocols, even as she warned that the delta variant is not an ordinary Covid-19 variant ravaged India, and currently the wreaking havoc in the country’s neighbors, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

She said there is even a possibility that the variant may have already reached the city. However, Mayor Sara said such could only be confirmed until such time a through genome sequencing could be undertaken.

“It’s the same virus except that it is more contagious than the other variants. The least that we can do is to continue wearing masks, washing of hands and distancing. These are our contribution to ensuring that our hospitals would not be swarmed with cases,” she said.

The regular bus route would remain between Cagayan de Oro City and Davao City. Alex Roldan, director of the regional Department of the Interior and Local Government, told the BusinessMirror that he has directed the police for heightened guard at the highway borders.

Despite the current strict border monitoring, the city would still open its airport to special flights, such as the repatriation of migrant workers. The first flight to be flown in here was on July 15, with 134 OFWs from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Another batch of 359 was accepted here on July 18.

Generose Tecson, officer-in-charge of the Davao City Tourism Operations Office said on Monday health and safety protocols were “strictly enforced.”

“PR8659 from Dubai, United Arab Emirates landed at 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 18 at the Davao International Airport [DIA]. Passengers were required to be swabbed 48 hours before the flight and present negative RT-PCR results in accordance to the City Ordinance 0477-21, Series of 2021 or the Mandatory Testing Prior to Entry into the Davao City via the Davao International Airport,” she said.

As required by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the OFWs and returning overseas Filipinos would undergo a 14-day quarantine here in Davao City before proceeding to their final destinations.

“We do a 14-day quarantine. They are swabbed on the seventh day after their arrival,” Tecson said.

She said the security personnel have been detailed on these hotel isolation facilities on a 24-hour watch, especially in the exit areas, to avoid cases of persons slipping away.

In these hotel quarantine facilities, the OFWs would be housed in the upper floors. For instance, if the designated hotel has 10 floors, only the seventh to the 10th floor shall be occupied. The elevators would then be limited only to the floors below these designated isolation floors.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration would shoulder the expenses of the OFWs while the national government would cover the swab. Returning overseas Filipinos would pay their own quarantine services and their swab test.

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