The city has closed its borders to the north, as the Department of Health-Davao Center for Health Development on Sunday confirmed the first COVID-19 case in the region.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon released a statement on Sunday to agree on the “partial lockdown on all entry and exit points” effective seven o’clock last night.
Meanwhile, Patient PH130 was described as a 21-year-old female who arrived in Manila from the United Kingdom, with a layover in Doha, Qatar. She then proceeded to fly to Davao City on Feb. 29. She first sought consultation from a local health facility due to cough and was immediately isolated on March 9. She was transferred and admitted for isolation and testing to a referral hospital last March 10.
Mayor Duterte, in an interview with Davao City Disaster Radio, said the partial lockdown will only affect the boundary between the cities of Davao and Tagum, particularly the Lasang (Barangay Alejandra Navarro) checkpoint.
“The ‘locked’ area is the Lasang checkpoint, the area between Tagum and Davao City,” Mayor Duterte clarified. “There are circumstances between Tagum and Davao City that need action. Hence we impose the lockdown.”
Tagum City is not the immediate boundary of Davao City in the north. It is Panabo City, also a city in Davao del Norte.
The Lasang checkpoint is the first and last security barrier that connects Davao City with Davao del Norte and other provinces to the north. With the Davao-Tagum lockdown, vehicles from Caraga Region may also be affected, as well as residents of Island Garden of Samal City, a city under Davao del Norte, as they are passing Davao City in going to their provincial capital.
Mayor Duterte issued Executive Order 11 declaring an order to implement the lockdown in Lasang checkpoint.
Within 24 hours, starting at seven o’clock last night, all vehicles coming from Tagum City that are passing through Davao City while en route to their final destination will be escorted in groups to the border checkpoint where they will exit.
“Other essential movements not covered in the listed exemptions may be allowed with clearance from the TF COVID Command Center,” the EO added.
First COVID-19 case
The patient is currently in stable condition and the DOH-DCHD assured the public that all necessary containment measures are being implemented to prevent local transmission of the virus.
The contact tracing team of DOH-DCHD, concerned local government unit, and the hospital where the patient is admitted are coordinating to identify the persons she interacted with for interview and proper assessment.
The DOH is also coordinating with the LGU in strengthening infection prevention and control protocols, and for further developments.
“We request those who will be identified as close contacts to the confirmed case to fully cooperate and provide necessary information for proper management and facilitation. Being personally responsible in order to control Covid-19 is an essential action in this challenging situation,” said DOH XI regional director Annabelle P. Yumang.
Presently, there are 50 PUI cases reported in the region, 29 patients were already discharged, while 21 are currently admitted in two government hospitals in the region.
On the other hand, 25 PUIs have already tested negative for Covid-19. There are still 13 cases awaiting results from the RITM while seven samples are about to be sent to the RITM.
Earlier, Mayor Duterte put the city under a community quarantine.
“There is a need immediately to be aggressive and proactive on the impending spread of Covid-19 in Davao City,” Duterte said in Executive Order No.10 signed and released on Sunday.
In an interview with the city government-run Davao City Disaster Radio 87.5 FM, the mayor deemed it necessary to declare community quarantine.
“Earlier, while we were discussing with the doctors, there really is a challenge,” she said, pointing out that it takes a week to wait for the results of laboratory tests that still have to be sent to Metro Manila.
With the community quarantine declared, the mayor said that people should stay in their homes. “(They) may only come out to work, buy foods or medicines, go to the hospital, or take out garbage.”
Mass gatherings and classes from kindergarten to post-graduate studies are also suspended until after the state of public health emergency is lifted.
The mayor also suspended all religious activities. On Sunday, all regular Sunday masses were canceled.
“We are not advising it anymore. We are no longer encouraging it. We are already mandating it that all religious activities are suspended,” Mayor Duterte said in vernacular on the radio interview.
Government works, however, are not suspended. The mayor said City Hall will continue its operations in dispensing their respective public services, noting that their employees from other provinces may enter Davao City. The EO stressed that necessary screening procedures must be followed on this.
Private companies must prepare and implement a flexible work plan for their employees. Mayor Duterte said this is mandated under the community quarantine declaration “in preparation for a lockdown.”
“So it must be that our private companies, must be ready what will happen (to their employees) if there will be a lockdown (especially) those businesses with employees outside Davao City,” she said.
“And also those businesses possible to be closed during a total and complete lockdown because they will not have businesses (by that time). So for now, they have to prepare for a possible lockdown.”
The EO also requires people to procure services and buy goods online from local suppliers.
“You must shift to online. There are many messengering services, there are also couriers that you can call to pick up (or) send (the item) to you. And there are online stores. So that is what they should do,” Mayor Duterte said.
The EO also encourages online meetings and bank transactions.
Public transportation will be allowed. The city mayor has reiterated that it is required to observe the social distancing with a minimum of one meter from each other.
She said, however, this is impossible on the jeepneys, vans, and buses here.
“What we ask for people to do is when you ride a jeepney, a bus, a van – you wear a mask,” she added.
Cargo deliveries will be allowed as long as it will be unloaded by the workers of the area or company who will be receiving the cargo.
“The driver and the loader must stay inside the truck,” Duterte added.
All other activities that may be determined in the future to be applicable in community quarantine will be determined later on, she said.
The mayor said, “we will no longer wait for two (Covid-19) patients (in the city) before declaring a community quarantine.”
“I don’t think we should wait that there has to be two who will be found positive for Covid-19 in our city before we declare a community quarantine,” she said.
Under the Inter-Agency Task Force Resolution 11, a community quarantine is a must if there are two positive Covid-19 cases in different barangays of the city or town.
“We still do not have the (test) results back but it was indicated in the executive order our challenges in testing and the time that the result of testing comes back here in the City of Davao.” In the EO, the mayor said there is “limited testing kits (in the city) and results take to long to become available.”
Mayor Duterte also pointed out that there was already an earlier guideline about what will happen during a community quarantine.
“I think we have been preparing for that because what we are doing (right now) is almost the same as what we are mandating to the Davaoeños as we have released this Executive Order number 10,” she said.
On Saturday, the mayor said stringent measures would be imposed on the city’s three entry points.
All passengers entering the city will be asked for health declaration form, Mayor Sara Duterte said on Saturday.
The form will be given to van and buses passenger to fill up while traveling. The form will be dropped at the box at the checkpoint.
With this, the mayor said heavy traffic is expected at the checkpoints.
Duterte said it is better for residents outside the city not to travel here for it will only cause them inconvenience.
“That’s the reason why we restrict their travel here,” she said during an interview with Davao City Disaster Radio 87.5 FM on Saturday night.
The two other entry points in the city are located in Barangay Sirawan in Toril District, and Barangay Lacson in Calinan District. The Task Force Davao, the unit tasked to man the checkpoints, said they will still be imposing “no contact inspection policy” until further notice. (Warren Elijah E. Valdez, Rhoda Grace B. Saron, and Nicole B. Burlas)