DAVAO CITY – The Davao City Government will be expanding its COVID-19 testing and “surveillance” of communities with COVID-19 cases to address the possible new surge of new variants.
Dr. Ashley Lopez, Davao City Health Office head and focal person for the city’s COVID-19, said during a program on DCRD 87.5 FM that the mandatory RT-PCR testing will not only be administered to direct contacts but also to the second and third level of contacts of those who had been infected.
“Every possible way of getting infected with the virus or contact with an index case will have to be traced up and tested. The more testing that we have, the more we can be accurate with our situation as far as Covid cases are concerned,” he said.
Aside from the expanded mandatory testing, the city has intensified its surveillance in barangays to include persons with influenza like illness.
In a news report, Barangay 15-B has been classified as “critical risk” while Barangays 27-C, 38-D, Bago Gallera, Mintal, and their adjacent Barangays of 14-B, Agdao Proper, Kapt. Tomas Monteverde, Sr. in Agdao are placed as “high-risk” until April 3.
Persons experiencing symptoms like fever, cough, colds or other Covid-related manifestations are advised to proceed to their nearest district health office or barangay for the arrangements of swabbing.
Lopez said the set up swabbing centers in barangays and district health offices is implemented to ease existing COVID-19 swabbing centers like the Sta. Ana Swab Center from getting overwhelmed with tests.
He said that they are eyeing to test up to 1,000 per day compared to the current testing average capacity of 400-500.
“To confirm the declining trend of cases in the city and to say that Covid is ultimately controlled, we have to do more testing. If we are to test 1,000 in a day and we only get 10-20 positives; that’s the time that we can say that the virus has been controlled,” he added.
For its implementation, the City Health has mobilized the existing 1,000 hired contact tracers, district health staff, barangay health workers, barangay nutrition scholars and barangay health emergency response teams.
Bio-surveillance or detection of a new variant is done by submitting samples for genome sequencing weekly to the Philippine Gnome Center for confirmation of new variant cases.
The city assured that they have the capacity for mass testings with three COVID-19 laboratories operating in the city including Southern Philippines Medical Center, molecular laboratory at Davao International Airport, and private-owned Davao One World Diagnostic Center.
Lopez also suggested that passengers coming from the National Capital Region and Cebu should undergo a mandatory 14-day facility-based quarantine as part of the effort to block the entry of the new COVID-19 variants.
As of March 31, Davao City has reported an addition of three cases, with a total of 323 active cases, two deaths and 12 recoveries.