Davao City mayor orders city workers to work from home, asks private employees to follow
DAVAO CITY—Mayor Sara Duterte ordered all city government employees to work from home as the city battles a new surge of COVID-19 cases that threaten to overwhelm healthcare facilities.
Executive Order 44, which Duterte signed on Sept. 6, also asked the private sector to do the same to stem the surge of cases in the city, which daily figures already breached the 500-mark over the weekend.
The state-run Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) and private hospitals catering to COVID-19 cases in the city were already full.
The 1,500-bed SPMC, the country’s biggest government hospital, and Davao region’s main COVID-19 referral facility announced during the weekend that its emergency beds were occupied and that it was considering expanding its emergency unit so more patients could be admitted, the mayor said over the Davao City Disaster Radio.
Duterte’s order, which takes effect Sept. 8 to 26, allows a skeletal force in the city government offices to keep services running.
Exempted from the order are those working on the government’s vaccination program, COVID-19 response workers, workers in the solid waste management program, other emergency response workers, and those implementing government projects.
Even personnel in disaster and social services programs were required to work from home, “provided they are on-call and on a shifting arrangement 24 hours a day.”
Duterte said the health group of the COVID-19 Task Force response cluster also recommended that essential workers be covered by the work-from-home arrangement, too.
New COVID-19 patients reached 586 cases on Sunday, Sept. 5, bringing the active COVID-19 cases in the city to 6,712.
Health experts have recommended that the city be placed under ECQ, but the mayor told them to check if the city, which is under general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions, could qualify under such classification.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has placed the city until the end of the month under GCQ with heightened restrictions.
Dr. Raquel Montejo, head of the Local Health Support Division of the Department of Health regional office, said the agency was looking at the capacity of the hospitals, as there was a need for more rooms because of the rising number of cases and the entry of “variants of concern.”
Of the 58 Delta variant cases that DOH has monitored in the region, 21 came from the city. Health authorities said the number could be higher as the results of the genome sequencing being done at the Philippine Genome Center in Diliman, Quezon City, arrived only at least three weeks after the specimens were sent.
The city government warned that the work-from-home order should not be made “an excuse for delay” of government service.
“All offices must create a system wherein government service is accessible to all those in need despite the work-from-home and skeletal workforce arrangement,” the order said.
To facilitate access of clients, offices are tasked to ensure that they have an online platform with a real-time feedback response system.
Meetings must also be done online, but in case a face-to-face one needed to be held, only five participants are allowed.
The mayor also revealed plans for the city government to make vaccination mandatory for all its employees. She said she would issue an executive order that would require all city government employees, whether regular, contractual, job order, volunteer, or consultant, to get fully vaccinated by Dec. 31, or their contracts would not be renewed.
“We were already given ample time to get vaccinated,” she said.
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