DAVAO CITY — A team from the national government is ready to fly to Davao City to help manage the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis as new confirmed cases were reported at record high levels for several weeks, National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez said.
In a meeting with the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team at Camp Quintin Merecido of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 on Wednesday afternoon, the team, including Health Assistant Secretary Leopoldo Vega and Retired Maj. Gen. Melquiades Feliciano, will assist in controlling the spread of the coronavirus disease here.
“If Mayor Sara (Duterte) will allow it, we will create a team. Our team from Cebu, Bacolod, and Manila, we will bring them over here,” he said, adding that the teams helped control the COVID-19 surge in Cebu, Bacolod, and Metro Manila.
He said the teams will focus on improving isolation, contact-tracing, and improving the capacity of the hospitals here.
“We will bring them to bring out those who are in home quarantine. That’s very significant. Those are our lessons that once we bring out those in home quarantine—and subsequently test them—and isolate, including the first contact, cases will go down within four weeks. We’ve already experienced that in Bacolod, Cebu, and Batangas,” he said.
Galvez urged the City Government of Davao to immediately put the close contacts of the confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in isolation facilities instead of just requiring them to complete home quarantine.
He said home quarantine raises more risks of community transmission which happens when the index case of a confirmed positive is unknown.
He said a similar explosion in the number of new COVID-19 cases was observed in other local government units (LGUs) that implemented home quarantine for close contacts.
“The isolation really, we have to put forward, we have to isolate. It should be ‘zero quarantine’ because, unless we will work at zero home quarantine, we will have a hard time,” Galvez said.
He said the local government should concentrate its efforts on improving the contact-tracing system and the isolation of close contacts.
He said local leaders of the LGUs in Metro Manila and other cities outside the National Capital Region (NCR) dealt with the surge through “aggressive isolation.”
“When we say home quarantine, it should include the first contact. Normally, the first contact is the key. Once you become a first contact, that means you are a close contact. For example, a COVID case has close contacts, they too must be isolated immediately and after five days, you test them. In other LGUs, the first contacts and those who have been contact-traced are just there in their houses, under home quarantine, and it results in the further spread (of infection),” he said.
He said the city must also intensify the implementation of health protocols on business establishments, particularly workplaces and other confined places, where most of the transmission in the city occurred.
“I believe this is our weakness. We don’t look at the business sector or confined spaces. When workers go home, they infect their families unknowingly,” he said.
Galvez said he will bring “Oplan Kalinga,” a program launched by the national government “to accommodate COVID-19 patients who do not have their own room and own toilet where they can isolate themselves or for those who have household members who are elderly, with existing diseases, and pregnant women,” in an effort to stem the widespread transmission of the infection, and bring a team to capacitate the hospitals in the city.
Oplan Kalinga “seeks to reduce the risk of more infections in the household and communities, and to identify and isolate infected individuals in proper isolation and quarantine facilities.”