DAVAO City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said 40 passengers of a plane that was bound for Davao City on Monday, September 21, tested positive for Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Duterte-Carpio said during an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio on Friday, September 25, the passengers who came from Manila were tested upon arrival at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport (FBIA), also known as Davao International Airport. It was here where some 40 passengers were discovered to be positive for the Covid-19 virus.
At present, airline passengers bound for Davao are required to have a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test before they can exit the FBIA. Those who are not able to secure an RT-PCR test prior to their flight to Davao City will be swabbed at the testing facility of the city. Passengers who are tested here will be asked to wait for their results at the holding facility at the airport.
The mayor said the passengers could have been asymptomatic because there is already a symptom screening in place at their airport of origin before they were allowed to board.
"The fact na naka-check in sila, naka-agi sila sa mga symptom checking, asymptomatic sila (the fact that they were able to get on board after getting through with the symptom check, it is possible that they are asymptomatic)," the mayor said.
The mayor observed several plane passengers arriving in Davao City tested positive.
She said the city already anticipated the surge of Covid-19 cases since air travels were allowed to resume in June this year after the city shifted to general community quarantine and now, modified general community quarantine.
"Nakita nato sa sugod palang nga it will be a problem, kining plane travel, sa mga tao because paspas kaayo ni makapaspread sa Covid-19 virus (we knew that air travel will become a problem because of how the Covid-19 spreads)," she said.
The mayor said although they already have health safety measures in place at the airport, there is still a need to improve it. Among the issues needed to be addressed are the convenience for passengers, the wellness and safety of the frontliners and the speed of detecting passengers positive for the Covid-19 virus and those who were seated near them.
"Kinahanglan nato i-improve ang convenience sa mga tao. Dili nato sila gusto magdugay dinha sa atoang airport because magtupad sila sa mga positive nga wala pa kita kahibalo kung kinsa ang positive sa ilaha," Duterte-Carpio said.
(We need to improve the passengers' convenience. Letting them wait at the airport for a long time puts them at risk of getting exposed to someone who could possibly positive.)
The mayor also said they are protecting frontliners in charge of the testing, considering the number of passengers they have to test everyday.
Duterte-Carpio said they also want to detect passengers who are positive for the virus as fast as possible. To achieve this, the city will be implementing a quick response (QR) code system for passengers arriving at the airport. A test run will be done on October 7 to 11.
She said they want to have a no-contact and paperless collection of information of arriving passengers. Passengers will only need to connect to the internet and fill out the contact tracing form on their smartphones. They will also be asked to prepare their valid identification cards, boarding passes, and their RT-PCR test results if they already have one.
Beginning October 12, the QR code system will be mandatory for all inbound passengers of FBIA.