DAVAO CITY — The Davao region on Friday breached the 1,000-mark in daily COVID-19 cases for the third consecutive day since the start of the year.
Dr. Rachel Joy Pasion, head of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Department of Health, theorized that the fast spread of the virus may have been caused by the Omicron variant after the region reported five cases of the variant which were detected last December.
“If there is a big jump in our cases, we can attribute this to Omicron, and because there were local cases detected of Omicron, we can assume that maybe there are really Omicron variant cases,” she said.
However, Pasion said that still, the main variant of concern in the region has been Delta, considered the most potent among the variants.
Even then, Pasion said that taking into account the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, the possibility that it has dominated the number of cases in the region is possible.
On Friday, the region registered 1,923 new cases, the highest among the three days and the highest since March 2020; 1,453 on Thursday and 1,428 on Wednesday. Based on the report, the number of active cases as of Friday was at 7,930.
The increase in cases has also affected several offices, among them the DOH regional office which stopped its operations for a week starting Friday so that it can be disinfected. The office, however, did not mention how many of its personnel were infected.
All specimens from the region are still being sent to the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center as well as other laboratories capable of analyzing these samples as the genome center at the University of the Philippines in Mindanao has yet to start its operations, tentatively scheduled next month.
This developed as the DOH regional office agreed with Mayor Sara Duterte that there is a need to balance policies in relation to curbing the spread of the virus with that of the economy.
Just like the mayor, Pasion also pointed out that the national government has been implementing stringent measures for those international travelers, either returning or visitors, the need to balance the action of local government is necessary.
“We should take into account our resources. We should consider the cost effectiveness of our action based on the different protocols that we are implementing,” Pasion explained.
Pasion also agreed with the mayor that since most of the people of the region have been vaccinated against the virus, those infected will only experience milder symptoms.
Duterte has maintained that the city government will not require those who want to enter the city to present both their vaccination cards and negative COVID-19 test results.
She pointed out that aside from being the burden of incoming visitors, either residents or those who are just visiting, these requirements will just impact on the economic recovery of the city as these do not assure that the virus will not spread considering its incubation period.
Duterte also pointed out that aside from the vaccination rollout, there are already cures for the virus, although this is not yet commercially available. The city government is still waiting for the shipment of medicines against the virus after it placed an order with a foreign company which has sought an approval of its emergency use utilization application from the Philippine government.