Davao City back to GCQ, immediate intervention needed to control peaking COVID-19 situation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20) — President Rodrigo Duterte placed Davao City under general community quarantine until November 30, tightening restrictions to curb a recent spike in infections, Malacañang announced Friday.

National COVID-19 task force chief implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. also told CNN Philippines' The Source that there has been a 63% increase in coronavirus cases in the city in just a week, which he described as "alarming."

"Ito po ay nakita po namin na talagang dapat iakyat ang restriction [We saw that we really need to raise the restrictions there]," Galves said about Davao City.

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He added that it was a "collective decision" of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases during the body's Thursday meeting, seeing the need to intervene to prevent a wider outbreak in the city, which is a major hub in Mindanao.

IATF Deputy Chief Implementer Melquiades Feliciano, who will head the Coordinated Operations to Defeat the Epidemic or CODE teams to be deployed in Davao, said the current COVID-19 situation in the city is already reaching its peak, which was the same as Bacolod City where he was previously deployed when a surge was observed there.

"Siguro iyong status ngayon ng Davao is the same as Bacolod City na nagpi-peak na sya and in a matter of time kung hindi sya magawan ng intervention, magkakaroon sya ng surge and it will cause deaths," he told CNN Philippines' News.PH on Friday.

[Translation: The current situation in Davao is the same as that in Bacolod City, wherein COVID-19 cases were reaching a peak when we came in and in a matter of time if there will be no intervention, there will be a surge and it will cause deaths.]

Feliciano said they will be heading to Davao on Monday. An initial assessment will be done through gathering of the necessary data from existing emergency operation center and doctors' organizations in the city, he said.

Major hospitals in the city are also the go-to institution for sick Mindanaoans, Galvez said, especially the Southern Philippines Medical Center.

A One Hospital Command Center will be set up in Davao City for better coordination on where to send COVID-19 patients, while additional nurses will be deployed to man health facilities, according to IATF Resolution 84.

Deputy Chief Implementer Melquiades Feliciano, who once worked with the local governments of Bacolod City and Cebu City when they saw a surge in cases, will head the Coordinated Operations to Defeat the Epidemic or CODE teams to be deployed in Davao.

Additional nurses will also be sent to augment local frontliners, while additional supplies of high-oxygen cannulae, Favipiravir (Avigan), Remdesivir, and medical equipment will be produced.

Local hospitals, including privately-owned ones, must raise the allotted beds for COVID-19 patients to 30% of their total capacity, IATF Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement. Meanwhile, hotels and other accommodation establishments will be tapped as quarantine centers and isolation hubs for coronavirus patients.

"Nakikita po natin na 'yung lahat ng mga lugar, mga cities na bumaba sa MGCQ ay talaga pong nagkaroon ng relaxation ng restrictions at saka nagkaroon ng masyadong kumpyansa ang mga tao," Galvez said, adding that this was likely the reason why mayors in Metro Manila are reluctant to scale down the GCQ classification for months now.

[Translation: We are seeing that those areas, cities which were placed under MGCQ have really relaxed and people have slackened in complying with restrictions.]

Prior to this, Davao City is under modified general community quarantine, the most relaxed regime.

Galvez noted that the IATF consulted with Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte about quarantine adjustments.

The task force official also flagged a similar concern in Baguio, which has been tagged as a "hotspot of serious concern" alongside Davao City. He said there should be more active case finding in the summer capital to trace where transmissions occur.

Baguio City, which is led by contact tracing czar Mayor Benjamin Magalong, recently opened its doors to tourists subject to COVID-19 testing requirements.