Editorial: Let's prevent a Covid-19 surge

IT IS a relief to see that Covid-19 cases in Davao City have steadily dropped in the past several weeks. This is thanks to the hard work of everyone involved in the management of the Covid-19 disease. From our health care workers to the local government unit to the general public following minimum health protocols.

However, we cannot be too complacent following the positive developments on the Covid-19 situation in the city. If we have learned something from the surge of Covid-19 cases in the National Capital Region and Cebu, we are not out of the woods yet.

Therefore it is good to note that the city government of Davao is doing whatever it can to prevent another surge of Covid-19 cases in Davao City.

On March 26, 2021, Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio signed Executive Order No. 18, series of 2021 (EO 18) for the heightened surveillance and response of Covid-19 in Davao City. The EO allows the local government unit to expand its testing and contact tracing capabilities to manage the Covid-19 situation in the city.

Under the EO, the will test and monitor those with influenza-like illness (ILI), which is defined by the World Health Organization as an acute respiratory infection with a measured fever of more than or equal to 38 degrees Celsius, cough, and with onset within the last 10 days.

Section 2 of the EO states that there shall be an establishment of ILI and Swab Corner in all the District Health Centers; there shall be a referral of ILI cases for mandatory RT-PCR testing in all district swab centers or if not yet available, to other swab sites; and there shall be monitoring of ILI close contacts for signs and symptoms of ILI or Covid-19.

Section 4 states that children and adults with ILI symptoms shall undergo Covid-19 RT-PCR testing. All ILI will also be required to undergo mandatory home quarantine while waiting for the RT-PCR test result.

This will allow the city government and local authorities to detect, test, trace, and isolate Covid-19 cases, including those that could have been undetected cases.

"We have to hunt every possible Covid suspects we could get, so that eventually gawas sa mapugngan unta (aside from curbing the transmission), with all the prayers, mapugngan nato ang pagsulod sa (we could also prevent the entry of the) new variant sa Covid diria sa (here in) Davao [City]," Dr. Ashley Lopez, head of the City Health Office, said in a previous interview.

Lopez said the city will be intensifying its contact tracing of those from the F1 level to the F3 level. F1 are close contacts of existing positive patients, while those close contacts of F1 are tagged as F2 or second-generation contact, and the F3 or third-generation contacts are those who have close contact with F2.

The city government is also implementing a test before travel policy through Davao City Ordinance 0477-21 Series of 2021 entitled, "An Order Providing For Mandatory Testing Prior To Entry Into Davao City Via The Davao International Airport."

Under EO 12-A, S. 2021, the city strictly requires land and air passengers coming from National Capital Region plus (NCR+) area and the entire island of Cebu. This also covers all travelers from Metro Manila who arrived in other airports in Mindanao and at the same time their final destination is Davao City.

For the city government and local health authorities to prevent another wave of Covid-19 cases, there is a need for it to put in place policies that will allow it to test and trace individuals as fast as it can to cut the chains of transmission. Based on the experience of nations that have succeeded in managing the spread of Covid-19, aggressive testing and contact tracing played a key role.

While the local government unit and health sector do their part to prevent another surge of Covid-19 cases in the city, the public also has to do its part, which a rather simple action. And this does not involve creating policies nor analyzing data. The public's discipline to comply with minimum health standards will already have a big impact in managing the Covid-19 cases in the city.

Wear your mask. Observe social distancing. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly. Avoid non-essential activities. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.


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