AFTER 19 months, Davao Region has now breached the 100,000-mark of total Covid-19 cases. However, the region is currently seeing a continuous downtrend of cases in the past weeks.
The region breached this mark on October 16, 2021, based on the data of the Department of Health-Davao Region (DOH-Davao), as it logged a total of 100,012 confirmed cases since the first case was recorded on March 15, 2020.
As of October 30, total confirmed cases reached 102,550. Of the total cases, 92,786 were tagged as recoveries or a recovery rate of 91 percent, while 3,378 succumbed from the virus or a fatality rate of 3.3 percent. Meanwhile, 6,386 were active cases or those who are still recovering from the virus, comprising a 6.2 active case percentage.
Compared to previous weeks, the region’s positivity rate was down to seven percent.
The figure is a huge decline compared to the peak 30-percent positivity rate experienced in the region around September 2021.
The positivity rate, however, is slightly higher compared to the five-percent recommended threshold rate to say that the Covid-19 situation in a certain locality is improving, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Based on the weekly data, the trend of deaths has been declining in the recent weeks following a peak in January 2021. It also showed an increasing trend from April to June 2021.
The highest number of total deaths in a morbidity week was 119 that was recorded from September 12 to 18. Majority of these deaths were recorded from Davao City.
In terms of testing output at the 12 facilities, the average positivity rate is around 13 percent with more than 2,000 tests.
Davao City remains to be the epicenter of the pandemic in the region in terms of the large share in the total confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
As of October 30, Davao City had a total of 53,202 confirmed cases, wherein 50,534 were recoveries, and 1,709 were deaths. However, unlike in the previous weeks, the city was no longer the highest, in terms of active cases as it was down to 959.
Davao del Surcurrently has the highest number of active cases with 2,308. In terms of total cases, the province is at 11,415, wherein 8,830 recovered, while 277 succumbed from the virus.
Davao del Norte, the second in the tally in terms of total confirmed cases, had total cases of 19,204. Of which, 17,117 recovered, 673 died, and 1,414 were still recovering.
Davao de Oro, the province wherein the first Covid-19 case was recorded in the region, logged 7,505 total confirmed cases, wherein 6,557 were tagged as recoveries, 363 were deaths, and 585 were still recovering.
On the other hand, Davao Occidental had a total of 3,759 cases, wherein 2,650 had recovered, 90 died, and 1,019 were active cases.
Davao Oriental, the province with the lowest active cases with 101, had a total of 7,465 confirmed cases, 7,098 were recoveries, and 266 succumbed to the virus.
In the October 23 data of DOH-Davao, Digos City in Davao del Sur topped the areas with the highest number of active cases with 1,596. In terms of newly recorded cases from October 17 to 23, Tagum City topped the list with 211.
Fredegusto P. David of the Octa Research Group tweeted that the Covid-19 situation in Davao City, the epicenter of the Covid-19 transmission in the region, had improved.
Davao City’s current reproduction rate is at 0.89.
The reproduction rate, as defined by WHO, is the average number of people infected by one person in a susceptible population.
During the October 4 virtual presser, Rachel Joy Pasion, DOH-Davao Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit head, said the region has recorded the highest actual positivity rate of 34.5 percent in September 2021. The highest seven-day moving average (daily confirmed new cases) for the entire region peaked at 32.5 percent. The gradual downtrend became notable by late September 2021.
The impact of the surge was highly attributed to the local transmission of the variants of concern (VOC), particularly the highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19, which was first detected in late July 2021.
Although based on the VOC data, Beta variant remains to be the dominant variant in the region with 331 as of October 25, Delta-detected specimens topped second with 222, causing a massive spread and clustering of cases in workplaces and households.
During the early week of October, Pasion said the testing outputs in the region were affected after the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) Molecular Laboratory suspended its operation due to a technical problem in its automated extraction machine. As the weeks came by, along with the resumption of the testing at the SPMC molecular lab, the region had already felt the gradual downtrend of daily recorded tests from the peak of 900 down to an average of 300.
Aside from the daily DOH Covid-19 data, the impact of the decline of cases was also felt in the region’s Covid-19 referral hospitals.
As of October 30, the entire region’s intensive care unit (ICU) beds had increased to 31.6-percent available beds, while isolation beds remained high with 61.3 percent available. Ward beds also remained decongested, wherein 77.7 percent remain available.
Meanwhile, as of October 29, SPMC, the city’s main referral hospital, also noted a decline in admission. SPMC’s ICU beds were 65.77-percent occupied, while its ward beds were 35.17-percent occupied.
SPMC Chief Dr. Ricardo Audan contributed to the improvement of hospital utilization since the Davao City Government allowed home quarantine for mild and asymptomatic patients.
Audan also said this had also brought a huge impact of mitigating the further spread of the virus, as hospitals and isolation facilities were decongested.
Pasion, on the other hand, also saw the impact of the continuous vaccination against Covid-19.
“‘Yun ang pangako ng ating mga bakuna. Hindi sa hindi tayo magkaka-Covid-19 100 percent pag nabakunahan tayo. It is almost a hundred percent sure that it will not fail as if magkaka-Covid po tayo eh hindi tayo magiging critical or to the point na mag-iintubate po sa atin,” she said.
(When you are fully vaccinated, it does not mean you will not get the Covid-19 but the vaccine will protect you from being in critical condition or being intubated.)
Aside from the medical interventions, Pasion also lauded the local chief executives for strictly enforcing the minimum health protocols down to the community.
Race towards vaccination
As of October 16, the region received a total of 4,483,220 doses of Covid-19 vaccines composed of seven different Covid-19 vaccine brands: Sinovac CoronaVac, Oxford AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty, Gamaleya Sputnik V, Janssen Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Sinopharm.
Of the total received brands, 4,215,818 had been distributed for the first and second dose.
Of the total administered, 1,385,976 got jabbed on their first dose, while 1,158,162 had been fully vaccinated after 1,013,893 received their second dose, while 144,269 received the one-shot Janssen Covid-19 vaccine.
While there is a massive vaccine rollout, which is a major factor in the continuous downtrend of active cases in the region, she also noted that the majority of the active cases are unvaccinated.
“We could also see on that one. Based on our recent report of active cases, 95.26 are unvaccinated, and only 0.1 percent are vaccinated,” Pasion said.
Despite the large number of Dabawenyos vaccinated, Dr. Janis Olavides, DOH-Davao vaccination team leader, revealed that Davao Region has not yet vaccinated half of its target population to achieve herd immunity seven months since the first vaccine rollout.
Olavides said 60.5 percent of the 3.7 million targeted for herd immunity remain unvaccinated.
“Ang dami pa nating kailangan bakunahan (We still have a lot of people to vaccinate). The target population 70 percent is 3,759,878. And unvaccinated pa din yung nasa (Those unvaccinated is still at) 60.5 percent,” Olavides said during the DOH-Davao weekly virtual presser on Monday, October 18.
Ideally, the region must achieve herd immunity by November 30, at least for the first dose if the public wants to have a “merrier Christmas.”
Olavides said some local government units (LGUs) in the region are still struggling to achieve at least 50-percent full immunization among senior citizens, hindering herd immunity.
Another struggle on their part is a large number of individuals continuously hesitant on getting inoculated due to various reasons: disinformation, social and religious beliefs, and other personal reasons.
With this, LGUs must step up its vaccination rollout and convince those who are still hesitant to get vaccinated.
Ideally, the region must achieve a total of 61,514 administered doses per day to meet the targeted herd immunity before the end of the year. Currently, the region was able to achieve more than 47,000 administered doses in a single day.
Apart from the adults, DOH-Davao is also targeting to vaccinate 620,216 children aged 12 to 17 years old in its pediatric vaccination against Covid-19 before the end of 2021. These include those with comorbidities and those who have none.
DOH-Davao Director Annabelle Yumang said during the Pediatric A3 symbolic vaccination at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) on Friday morning, October 29, that pediatric ages with comorbidities were prioritized as they are vulnerable to transmission.
“Sila pud atong nakitaan nga natakdan (They were also the ones who we saw vulnerable to infection). The transmission is within the family because parents are working. Unsaon nato pag protect sa ilaha kung dili sila maapil sa atong pagpamakuna karon? (How can we protect them if they will not be included in the vaccination right now?)” she said.
The Philippines will begin its nationwide vaccination of minors aged 12 to 17 on November 3.
Aside from SPMC, the vaccination for the Pediatric A3 group will also be rolled out at the Metro Davao Medical and Research Center and the Seamen’s Hospital in R. Castillo.
Other hospitals in the region that will also be rolling out the vaccines for the Pediatric A3 group are Davao del Sur Provincial Hospital, Davao Regional Medical Center, Davao De Oro Provincial Hospital, and Davao Oriental Provincial Medical Center.
Dr. Roy Ferrer, DOH assistant secretary for Visayas and Mindanao, also during the same event, urged parents and children to encourage other people to get vaccinated and impart their knowledge on the vaccines and vaccination experience to advocate the advantages of vaccination and increase the target number of vaccinees.
“The faster we vaccinate Filipinos at the soonest possible time, the better and safer for all of us,” Ferrer said.
After more than a year since the pandemic broke out, he ended his speech by saying that vaccination is the country’s hope for going back to normalcy.
“The faster we vaccinate Filipinos at the soonest possible time, the better and safer for all of us,” the DOH official said.