Davao City saw single-day four-digit numbers of COVID-19 cases for two straight days this week as health workers struggled to keep the virus from spreading in the city and elsewhere in Southern Mindanao.
The city logged its highest number of single-day cases so far at 1,197 on Wednesday, January 19, breaking its record on September 14, 2021, when it counted 712 newly documented cases in a day. On Thursday, January 20, it dropped to 1,020 new cases.
Among those found to be COVID-19-infected in Davao City this week were 22 health workers who served at the vaccination and swabbing sites set up at the People’s Park and Crocodile Park.
Dr. Michelle Schlosser, the focal person of Davao City’s COVID-19 inter-agency task force, said the workers have been replaced and isolated while the vaccination and swabbing sites have been disinfected.
Dr. Rachel Joy Pasion, head of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Department of Health (DOH), told an online briefing on Thursday that they theorized that the COVID-19 surge was caused by Omicron, pointing out that the more transmissible variant of the virus was detected in Mindanao as early as December.
Of 35 samples from the Davao region sent to the Philippine Genome Center in December 2021, five were confirmed to be cases of Omicron variant infections at a time when those who contracted the virus were already certified recovered.
Of the five, three were fully vaccinated, and three were returning overseas workers. Two of the five were from Davao Occidental who have no history of international travel while Davao City, Davao del Sur, and Davao del Norte registered one case each, Pasion said.
DOH data showed that the Davao region topped the list of Mindanao’s six regions in terms of the number of active COVID-19 cases as of Thursday at 4,926.
Northern Mindanao ranked second with 3,643 cases that day, followed by the Zamboanga Peninsula with 2,550, Caraga with 2,195, Soccsksargen with 2,153, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM) with 1,509.
The DOH, however, said there could be discrepancies given delays in reporting from the regions. The DOH in Southern Mindanao, for instance, logged 6,243 total active cases that day.
The Davao region also counted 24 COVID-19-related deaths since the beginning of the new year.
Despite the increasing number of infections, officials said Southern Mindanao’s hospital and isolation bed capacity rate was moderate with 108 of the region’s 217 intensive care unit beds, 419 of its 895 isolation beds, and 331 of 604 hospital ward beds in use. – Rappler.com
Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and awardee of Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship