DAVAO CITY – Five additional coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing sites have been established to boost efforts of the local government to detect more confirmed cases here, according to Davao City Health COVID-19 focal person Ashley Lopez.
Lopez, in an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Wednesday, said that the local government hopes that more people, particularly close contacts of COVID-19 cases, will get access to the virus test with the addition of new testing centers in Barangay Daliao in Toril, Barangay Ilang in Tibungco, Mintal, Matina Aplaya, and Barangay 76-A Bucana.
He said that they also hope to decongest the swabbing site in Sta. Ana Health Center and minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The center, where most individuals who are contact-traced are referred to for swabbing, caters to an average of 500 clients a day, according to Lopez.
“Most of those who have been contact-traced in the community are sent to the swabbing center in Sta. Ana. We cannot avoid the long lines. From that alone, there is already the risk (of transmission) because there are too many people who wait in long queues. Through the (additional) swabbing areas, we can decompress Sta. Ana and those who live nearby can get access to swabbing there,” he added.
He added that swabbing at these centers is not intended for mass testing.
He said testing centers will cater to targeted populations, including individuals with exposure to COVID-19 cases.
“This is not mass swabbing. We don’t believe in mass swabbing. Only those in the line list of the contact-tracing report will be allowed there. If you are someone who is a COVID-19 suspect, that you think you’ve been exposed to or suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, you can go directly to the swab areas, and undergo a case investigation,” Lopez said.
As of December 15, the Department of Health-Davao reported a total of 10,967 COVID-19 cases in the region, with 2,157 active, 8,377 recoveries, and 433 deaths.
Of the total cases, Davao City reported 7,680, Davao de Oro – 552, Davao del Norte – 1,316, Davao del Sur – 804, Davao Occidental -122, and Davao Oriental – 483.
Davao City reverted to the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from the Modified GCQ last November 20 to 30, and has been extended until the end of this year.
During the aggressive community testing from December 1 to 3 in the city, Lopez said that 206 out of 1,400 test samples yielded positive results.
“Based on that report, there was a high positivity rate from that activity, which means that we still have cases in several barangays,” he added.
More temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs) have also been established in Davao City in anticipation of a surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.
Lopez said the Sta. Ana National High School and Hotel Midori on Governor Duterte Street in Poblacion District were opened as TTMFs, bringing to 23 the total COVID-19 facilities of the city with a capacity for over 2,000 persons.
Out of the 23 facilities, 14 are intended for isolation and nine as holding areas, he said.
“As reported as of December 15, we have a utilization rate of 65%. This means we are still under the yellow color, not yet in the pink or red. We’re not yet at the critical level,” he said.
Aside from this, Lopez added that the local government will open two additional TTMFs to further increase the total COVID-19 beds.
“I will not disclose the names but that is already ongoing, in anticipation of a possible surge this Christmas season,” he said.
Lopez added that the city started seeing fewer active cases with more recoveries beginning early part of this month as compared to the second half of November.
“On the optimistic side, we’ve seen a downtrending with our daily analysis. The more recoveries we have, the lesser deaths we have, and eventually we can slowly overcome active cases,” he added.
He said it is important to manage the active cases to avoid more deaths.
Lopez also said that more aggressive contact-tracing efforts are necessary to test close contacts to detect positive cases.
“Aside from the index case or the positive case, we are also investigating direct contacts, particularly persons who live in the same households, their workmates, and the persons with whom they have interacted with for the past several days. These are considered direct contacts. As a policy, we need to swab them to address the problems and eventually control COVID cases in Davao,” he said.