DUE to high or increasing Covid-19 transmission, resulting in increased bed utilization and intensive care unit (ICU) rates, Davao Occidental was classified by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) under alert level 4.

Rachel Joy Pasion, Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit head, said during the DOH-Davao virtual presser on Monday, October 18, that this was based on the IATF meeting on the same day.

But Pasion said the region is still not yet adopting the alert level stratification, which is currently being piloted in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Areas under Alert Level 4, the second highest alert level, show high and increasing case counts with total Covid-19 bed and intensive care beds at increasing utilization rates.

The DOH official said there must be ramp-up active case finding, conduct risk-based testing using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and fast-track vaccination among high-risk groups. Intensified granular lockdowns from barangay down to the household level to contain transmission will also be implemented.

Davao City and Davao del Norte were classified under alert level 3, while Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur, and Davao Oriental are under alert level 2.

Pasion said the alert levels were based on the Covid-19 cases as of October 17, while the healthcare utilization rate is as of October 16.

“This is not a one-month analysis but a weekly analysis stratification,” she said.

She added that the local government can still appeal to the classifications recommended.

"Check po natin (We should check). [Is] the data we have is the real picture of the different municipalities?” Pasion said.

For both areas under alert level 3 and 4, the official said these areas must increase their vaccination rate. In addition, they are mandated to avoid using hospitals as vaccination sites to reserve the area for admission in case of a possible surge of cases.

The official said they will also be prioritized in the whole genome sequencing for the detection of variants of concerns (VOCs).

“We should make sure that we shall secure sample to these priority areas so that we can see if may kinalaman ba si VOC kung bakit tumataas ang (if the VOCs have something to do in the increase of) cases in these areas,” Pasion said.