Saturday, October 23, 2021

Editorial: Responding to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases

THE spike in Covid-19 cases in the region has been worrisome.

Based on the daily Covid-19 figures of the Department of Health (DOH) in Davao Region, the region recorded 1,031 new Covid-19 cases on September 4, 2021. This is the highest reported number of new cases in a single day since the pandemic started.

Of the new cases, 498 are from Davao City, 238 from Davao del Sur, 126 from Davao del Norte, 67 from Davao Oriental, 64 from Davao de Oro, and 28 from from Davao Occidental. It should also be noted that this is the highest number of new cases reported in a single day in Davao del Sur.

Figures also show that the active cases in the region have more than doubled. Active cases in the region went from 6,545 on August 4 to 13,636 on September 4. A similar trend can also be observed per province and city in the region in the same period. Davao City saw a jump from 2,805 active cases to 6,208. Other areas that experienced a large increase in active cases are Davao del Sur (1,299 to 3,006), Davao Occidental (294 to 1,065), and Davao Oriental (354 to 1,192). Davao del Norte saw an increase in active cases but the growth rate was slower from 1,157 on August 4 to 1,636 on September 4.

Davao de Oro was the only province that saw a decrease in active cases from 636 on August 4 to 529 on September 4.

The share of active cases in the region's total Covid-19 case has also increased to 18.8 percent from 11.9 percent. The recovery rate has dropped to 78.1 percent from 84.8 percent. This means more are getting infected than persons recovering.

Hospitals in the region are also nearing full capacity. As of September 4, 2021, 629 of the 792 ward beds for Covid-19 patients are occupied. For intensive care unit (ICU) beds, 187 of 233 are occupied. Of the 825 isolation beds, 517 are occupied. However, these are hospital beds and may not include the number of beds for temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, where most asymptomatic patients are.

Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the primary Covid-19 referral facility in Davao City and the largest hospital in the region, has announced on its Facebook page that it is experiencing an "unusually high volume of patients needing admission for Covid-19."

Davao Oriental Governor Dayanghirang has also said their provincial hospital and isolation facilities are also full.

"Actually, ang atong (our) provincial hospital, so far puno na gyud kaayo (is already fully occupied). Ang atong (Our) isolation facilities, hapit-hapit na mapuno (is also almost full)," he said.

Health authorities in the region suspect that the sudden rise in Covid-19 cases in the region is because of the Sars-CoV-2 variants, particularly the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Dr. Rachel Joy Pasion, Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit head of the DOH-Davao, said the recent confirmed Delta variant cases in the region have no history of travel outside the region and had no contact with any returning overseas Filipinos.

"So we should consider it as a local transmission na here sa atong (in the) region," Pasion said.

DOH-Davao has also observed that there is already a clustering of variant cases in the region.

"We have really seen clustering of Delta cases among their closed contact, even if itong (our) whole-genome sequencing (WGS), e, parang delayed na ‘yung ating mga result, nakikita natin na pag may mga clustering (has delays in the results, we can see clustering of cases)," Pasion said.

Likewise, SPMC chief Dr. Ricardo Audan said while this is not the first time that the hospital is seeing a surge in Covid-19 cases, it is different this time around.

"This has something to do with the Delta variant. Kasi ang characteristics ng hawahan is mabilis ang transmissibility, mabilis makaparami ng pasyente. (Because the characteristics of the transmission is faster, infecting more patients.) So it could be a Deta variant," Audan said.

In response to the increasing cases, the provincial government of Davao Oriental has placed the province under enhanced community quarantine from September 8 to 21.

The municipalities of Sta. Maria and Jose Abad Santos in Davao Occidental have also put in place stricter quarantine measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

The government units of Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao Occidental, and Davao del Sur have yet to issue new policies surrounding the recent developments.

Vaccination also continues amid the rise of Covid-19 cases.

While local government units respond by implementing policies or providing additional support to health facilities, the public must also respond by following the minimum health standards.

Government and health authorities have said previously that our response to the pandemic is still the same -- wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, and regular washing or sanitizing of hands. Add to that avoiding gatherings and getting vaccinated when it is your turn.

As Covid-19 cases in the region rise, our healthcare system is again under threat of being overwhelmed. Since the Covid-19 situation is also highly dependent on our behavior, it is important we are disciplined in following the minimum health protocols and mindful of our actions. Our cooperation will help in controlling the spread of Covid-19 in our communities.


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