City gets more complaints on contact tracing methods, swabbing

Jun. 27, 2021

A three-story apartment in this city was placed under lockdown recently after one of the boarders, a call center agent, had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

All the apartment’s residents were categorized as F1 or first generation contacts to a person with COVID-19, and they have to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine in their units while waiting for their RT-PCR or swab results.

This did not sit well with one of the boarders, a nurse who works at the Southern Philippine Medical Center (SPMC), the main hospital handling COVID-19 cases in Davao region.

“Wala man lang thorough investigation/stratification if may direct contact sa Patient? basta lockdown lockdown? (There was no thorough investigation/ stratification if the patient has direct contact, they just said lockdown is lockdown) We don’t even know the patient!,” this was the complaint posted by Glenn Manalo Apuhin on his Facebook post last June 18, which has garnered 171 shares and 292 reactions.

Category F1 are persons who are exposed to someone with COVID-19, F2 are close contacts of F1, and F3 are close contacts of F2. While F1 to F3 persons are required to undergo swab tests, only F1 persons are required to undergo home quarantine.

Apuhin was concerned on how they were categorized as F1 which, he said, has raised more problems.

“Major reason why we are F1 is that there’s only one entrance (to the apartment). Is that it?” he wrote in Cebuano.

“Wala nila gi take into consideration na people have jobs!! (PS WALAY AYUDA) (They did not take into consideration that people have jobs, and there’s no aid, they have bills to pay, they need food,” he added.

Apuhin also criticized the police officers who were present in their apartment to enforce the lockdown, claiming they were treated “like criminals.”

He complained that with the forced lockdown that day people had gone hungry.

“What are their plans? Time check 7 pm, up to now there has been no assistance from barangay (officials) to bring food or anything. Do you think everyone here can afford Food Panda?”

Apuhin later updated his post saying an officer apologized and downgraded their status to F3, so all boarders were allowed to leave for work.

“Let us give credit where credit is due. Thanks to Team Leader Legario who personally went to explain things and apologized for the attitude of the police yesterday. Although the apartment is under lockdown, some were downgraded to F3 from F1, thus they can continue going to work,” he posted.

As the city implements contact tracing and swabbing to arrest the spread of coronavirus in the city, there were complaints like that of Apuhin that had been raised through social media.

Last Monday, a mother called up the Special Hour program of Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in Disaster Radio to complain that her daughter’s RT-PCR test results were only messaged to her as her daughter’s company needs an official copy of the test result.

She said there had been no replies to her e-mail requests for the swab result.

The mother also raised concern since her house is placed under lockdown. “We have no relatives here. Maghulat pa ba mi nga mamuti ang among mata ani? (Do we have to wait till our eyes fall off),” she said.

The mayor replied that she would take this matter after her program to deliver the test result.

COMPLAINTS. Posts and comments from disgruntled Davao residents like these pepper social media, despite the mayor’s declaration that the COVID-19 situation is under control.

A common complaint among residents is how COVID-19 hotlines are not accessible or their call gets passed around whenever they would call to ask for their swab results.

In the past two weeks, residents reportedly were lining up at two of the city’s swab centers as early as 3 am just to get free swabbing.

The temporary suspension of the city’s main swabbing center in Sta. Ana due to COVID-19 infection of its staff has caused more people to flock to the other two centers.

A radio announcer said that residents are worried with the threat on getting penalized for failing to take swab tests. The city council is drafting an ordinance to penalize persons who refuse to take the RT-PCR tests after being advised to do so.

Acting City Health Office Head Dr. Ashley Lopez has asked the public for understanding as the city is stretching its efforts to accommodate everyone who has lined up for the test, which sometimes reaches up to 1,000 persons. A swab test center could only accommodate 700 to 800 people daily.

The experience of Apuhin showed that residents of Davao need to call out some lapses in this process.

“If hindi tayo nag rereklamo at nakikita natin na may MALI ing ani ta permi. so kanang linya na “sumonod nalang” para na sa mga privilege na tao! (If we don’t complain if we see something wrong, this will keep on happening. So that line that says we should follow the rules is only for those who are privileged). Don’t be afraid to speak up!”

Davao City continues to see a surge in coronavirus cases, with 4,951 active cases as of June 25. The city has already a cumulative total of 23,102 cases since the outbreak last year with 17,302 recoveries and 849 deaths.

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