Davao City, the President’s hometown, as well as other cities in Mindanao have been identified by the OCTA Research Group as areas of concern due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.
The other southern cities include Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Koronadal and Cotabato.
According to OCTA, these Mindanao cities would surpass Quezon City with the highest number of new cases before next week.
It said Davao City has had a 54-percent rise in infections over the past week, or from 134 cases to 206 cases for the period May 31 to June 6.
The Department of Health said Monday 25 percent of COVID-19 cases in the country were from Mindanao, followed by 20 percent from the Visayas, 13 percent from Metro Manila, and 40 percent from the rest of Luzon.
The DOH is studying if there is a need to deploy Metro Manila health workers to other regions where there is a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections.
It will be sending additional medicine, personal protective equipment, and more funds to hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots in Mindanao where COVID infections continue to surge, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
Aside from this, the DOH is also trying to check if there is a need to deploy health workers from Metro Manila to several areas in Mindanao, Vergeire said Monday.
This developed as over 400 workers of a call center in Davao City tested positive for COVID-19, a local health official said.
In a virtual presser, Dr. Marjorie Culas, assistant city health officer, said around 1,000 workers of the call center firm took swab tests after their colleagues tested positive for the coronavirus.
“That is high already. High positivity rate. We are really forced to lockdown the area. This was a real surge (of infections) within the workplace,” Culas said.
Several business process outsourcing companies also experienced transmission of the disease in their office spaces, as the city was forced to lock down the call center, which authorities did not name.
Culas said 11 call center companies in the city reported cases of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio said the city’s temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs) had reached full capacity.
In a radio interview, Duterte said the city’s TTMF had a 2,027 bed capacity, where 1,466 of which were already being used by COVID-19 patients in isolation, while the rest were utilized for all other cases which require quarantine.
Duterte said this was also the reason why there were some delays in picking up other COVID-19 positive patients.
In Bacolod City, although officials are concerned with a “very alarming” surge in cases, Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia said they are not keen on seeking a stricter quarantine level from the national government.
Leonardia said Bacolod was doing stricter measures on their own to contain the transmission of the disease, such as longer curfew hours, liquor regulations and reduced capacity in establishments.
In the Caraga region, the Department of Health recorded 230 new cases, bringing the region’s active case tally to 3,205. Agusan del Sur topped the number of active cases with 519, followed by Surigao del Sur with 402, Agusan del Norte with 321, Dinagat Islands with 283, and Surigao del Norte with 197.
Among the cities, Butuan City has the highest number of active cases with 804, followed by Surigao with 281, Bislig with 200, Bayugan with 102, Cabadbaran with 51, and Tandag with 45.
In General Santos, the occupancy rate in hospitals catering to COVID-19 patients in South Cotabato has already reached the “danger zone” as active cases in the province breached the 1,000-mark over the weekend.
South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said Monday the hospitals catering to confirmed and probable patients in the area are now “almost full” due to the increasing admissions in the past several days.
As of 6 p.m. Sunday, the active cases in the province already reached a total of 1,106, the highest in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).
The national government last week placed Davao under modified enhanced community quarantine from June 5 to 20 to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Koronadal’s cases nearly doubled from 28 to 56 over the past week, while Cotabato City posted a 62 percent week-on-week increase in infections.
Outside Mindanao, the areas of concern include the cities of Bacolod, Iloilo, Dumaguete and Tuguegarao.
Healthcare utilization rates also remained high in the provinces of Iloilo, Misamis Oriental and Cagayan, OCTA said.
The number of new cases in the NCR Plus area resumed a downward trajectory following a week of “unstable trends”, OCTA said.
The reproduction number in the NCR from May 31 to June 6 was 0.74, while the one-week growth rate was -11 percent with a positivity rate of 9 percent.
Carpio cited that the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Davao was requested by the city due to the surge in cases and the increase in occupancy rate of the TTMFs and the hospitals.
“The MECQ is the product of the discussion of the Davao City COVID-19 Task Force and those who have witnessed the occupancy rates of our TTMFs and hospitals. We requested it because we avoid congesting our hospitals and if that happens, many will die because they can no longer acquire the exact medical care needed both for Covid and non-Covid cases. So the Dabawenyos should understand that we are all doing this so that we will not overwhelm our health care system,” she added.
The city is under MECQ until June 20.
In terms of the speed of the virus’ spread, Mindanao has outpaced the National Capital Region, the epicenter of the virus, according to the DOH.
Occupancy rate in Metro Manila’s intensive care units remains at 51 percent, while isolation beds in NCR hospitals are 40 percent full, according to data from the national government.
Nationwide, ICU beds are 58 percent occupied, while isolation beds are 48 percent full.
Vergeire, during a virtual press briefing on Monday, said hospitals in Metro Manila are still under moderate risk level.
The DOH has reiterated to the public that parties are still prohibited as these can be superspreader events which will result in more COVID-19 transmissions.
“We appeal to the local government units and to the public that gatherings such as parties are prohibited as these may be considered as super spreader events,” Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.
“We urge the public to stay home and go out only when needed to prevent the transmission of COVID-19,” Vergeire said.
Vergeire noted the joint memorandum signed by the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior and Local Government last week, which cited the internal guidelines for law enforcers and government agencies in handling health protocol violations.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the actions of authorities on these violations should be based on the local ordinances during a public health emergency.
During the previous weeks, incidents of mass gatherings were reported in Quezon City which resulted in COVID-19 infections of those who attended the gatherings.