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Penalty for close contacts of COVID cases who refuse swab test pushed

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews) – The city council is drafting an ordinance that seeks to penalize close contacts of COVID-19 cases who would refuse to undergo a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

Dr. Ashley Lopez, acting head of the City Health Office, told Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) that the proposed ordinance will include penalties for first to third generation (F1 to F3) contacts who won’t submit themselves for swabbing.

F1 are persons who are exposed to an index case, F2 are close contacts of F1, and F3 are close contacts of F2.

Lopez said the public must take COVID-19 seriously as the pandemic affected several people already.

The Department of Health-Davao reported 195 new infections in Davao City on Tuesday, bringing the total cases to 17,528, with 2,013 active ones, 14,754 recoveries, and 761 deaths.

In a press release issued by the City Information Office, Dr. Michelle Schlosser, spokesperson for Davao City COVID-19 Task Force, said the city would soon establish a swabbing area at the Magsaysay Park to hasten testing of F2, F3 and DQR-traced persons.

Once established, she said Sta. Ana swabbing center will only cater to F1 and persons with influenza-like illnesses, while the drive-thru swabbing at the Crocodile Park will accommodate surveillance testing, F2 and F3 without such illnesses, she said.

Each site can accommodate 700 to 800 persons daily, she said.

Lopez encouraged people who receive a text message from Safe Davao QR (DQR) to not ignore the push notification and immediately undergo a swab test because it means they have encountered an active case.

The SMS from DQR includes the place, date, and time where the individuals encountered an index case.

“Once you receive a DQR, that means you are a probable contact. Our swab testing is free. I just cannot understand why you do not submit yourselves to swabbing. In our situation right now, we have to cooperate and participate in our mitigating measures against COVID-19. This is the only way that we can control COVID. If you don’t cooperate, we will have more cases because of you,” Lopez said.

The DQR system is an electronic contact tracing and travel pass platform to implement contactless gathering and electronic storage data within the city.

The DQR ordinance passed on December 7, 2020 states that the DQR system must be used by all individuals, be they residents or non-residents, who need to enter the city for essential or work/business purposes.

Establishments, covering government and private offices, event venues, hospitals, hotels, malls, stores, groceries, mini-marts, restaurants, carenderias, palengke, places of worship, educational institutions and all other organizations, including their sub-offices or branches, are also required to implement the system. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)

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