By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said on Friday that she cannot rule out the possibility that any or some of the passengers, who arrived Monday on board a sweeper flight from Clark, Pampanga, could be positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) until after they all undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Duterte said during her interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) 87.5 that to say all AirAsia passengers were already clear of the COVID-19 infection was an “inaccurate generalization”.
“The only time that we can say that all of those passengers of that flight are cleared is after 14 days if they do not develop any symptoms. It is an inaccurate generalization, to say that none of those passengers had tested positive,” she added.
She said all returning Dabawenyos to the city would start Day 1 of the quarantine period upon arrival, and would be cleared only after the 14 days, the incubation period for the COVID-19 infection.
Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Assistant Regional Director Lenny Joy Rivera said earlier that the passengers of AirAsia were all cleared after testing negative based on the “rapid diagnostic test (RDT)”.
Citing a memorandum issued by the city government of Davao for returning passengers, she said they would be placed under 14-day strict home quarantine when they are “asymptomatic” and tested negative for the infection based on the RDT.
“It’s the effort of the local government unit on the procedure on how to deal with returning residents, same with repatriates and, for DOH, as per instruction to us, we prepared Go Hotel just in case if the repatriates need a place to stay,” Rivera said.
The RDT, conducted on stranded passengers who arrived from Clark and Manila, is not deemed as a sufficient tool to detect COVID-19 positive cases, the mayor said.
The sweeper flight from Clark was paid for by businessman Johnny Ng, including the 400-seater aircraft of Cebu Pacific that arrived here Wednesday from Manila carrying 270 passengers.
“That is why, we have symptom screening cards and gave them instructions, and their names were given to the district offices and barangay captains,” she said.
The RDT is used only as a screening tool to determine if passengers could proceed to their respective homes, to Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), or to a quarantine facility, after their arrival in the city, according to Duterte.
“So, it (RDT) is not used to say whether you are negative or positive. We are using to say where you are going (after arrival),” she said.