BUKIDNON, Philippines – Davao City has seen a steady decline in the number of its single-day COVID-19 cases in the past week but officials cautioned against complacency.
From 975 COVID-19 cases on January 27, the number of infections documented daily in the city dropped to 374 on Wednesday, February 2.
The Davao Region also saw its single-day COVID-19 cases go down to 774 on Wednesday from 1,897 on January 27.
The Department of Health (DOH), however, recorded 70 coronavirus-related deaths during the same period.
Dr. Michelle Schlosser, the focal person of the Davao City COVID-19 inter-agency task force, confirmed the downtrend to the Davao City Disaster Radio on Wednesday, but asked residents to remain cautious because the COVID-19 positivity rate remained high at 32% as of January 30.
“The current positivity rate remains high. The acceptable rate is 5%, and we are not there yet. We can never be confident. The projection can still stand until mid-March but we are hoping this current decline will continue,” Schlosser said.
She said the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the Davao Region’s top COVID-19 referral hospital, and other hospitals were still overwhelmed by the number of patients who caught the virus.
The intensive care unit at the SMPC has been full since January 27 while its wards remained fully occupied as of Wednesday.
Schlosser said Davao City’s temporary treatment monitoring facilities were also at a high-risk level, prompting decision-makers to allow the asymptomatic and those with mild symptoms to go on home isolation so as not to overwhelm the local government-run facilities.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte described the surge in COVID-19 infections in the city, blamed on the more transmissible Omicron variant, as “fast and furious,” but said it has gone past its peak already.
Officials said the massive vaccination rollout in Davao City cushioned the effects of the surge and helped in preventing people from getting seriously sick.
Schlosser said many of those who died were unvaccinated, citing data culled from January 23 to January 29 showing that of the 15 people who died during the period, at least nine were unvaccinated.
“This is what the data is telling us. The vaccination has helped us in this Omicron surge,” Schlosser said.
From January 27 to February 2, the SPMC alone logged 34 deaths. According to Duterte, the city government has facilitated the cremation of 2,274 people who died of COVID-19 in the city since October 20, 2021. – Rappler.com
Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.