COVID-19 Davao City

Doctor says EO requiring RT-PCR tests before hospital admission is ‘over-reaching’

DAVAO CITY — A physician practicing at the Brokenshire Hospital on Saturday urged the city government to “trust the hospitals” when it comes to the admission of patients instead of crafting an “over-reaching” Executive Order (EO) requiring them to subject incoming patients to the RT-PCR test for COVID-19.

In a statement, Dr. Jack Estuart, who was the Medical Director of Brokenshire Hospital from 1994 to 2010, said hospitals have COVID-19 policies in place that are “evolving based on new understanding and the developing science and evidence.”

“They can have more leeway in adjusting their operations as they work within their unique situations. An EO from the Mayor is kind of over reach. We have to follow a dictate which we might leave us with limited elbow room to adjust,” he said.

The statement came a day after Mayor Sara Duterte issued EO No. 53 “requiring mandatory COVID-19 RT-PCR testing  or patients referred to hospitals in Davao City.”

(Read the EO here.)

Under the EO, all patients referred to hospitals in Davao City besides the Southern Philippine Medical Center (SPMC) are now required to submit the results of their reverse transmission-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) taken within 24 to 48 hours “to protect healthcare workers from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19.”

All Davao City hospitals are also encouraged to make it a policy to request the RT-PCR results for walk-in patients and their companions.

The EO has become a contentious issue among residents, with the City Government of Davao Facebook page getting inundated with comments criticizing the new requirement.

Many of the comments have centered on the cost of the RT-PCR test which the patient presumably has to shoulder since the EO makes no mention of who will pay for it. A test costs an average of P6,000 each.

Some commenters said the EO could result in more serious health issues as many of those who cannot afford to get the test would simply choose not to seek medical help in hospitals.

A press release from the City Information Office (CIO) said the mayor issued the EO “after Davao City recorded cases of COVID-19-positive patients who had medical check-ups for other illnesses in hospitals not assigned to receive coronavirus cases.”

The press release quoted the mayor as saying, “If we allow this to happen in our hospitals, our goal of protecting and allowing non-COVID hospitals to continue with their non-COVID work will not happen.”

The city government has only assigned SPMC as the receiving medical facility for all coronavirus-related cases to protect healthcare workers and patients in other hospitals.

Estuart, however, said the data on how many healthcare-associated or workplace-associated infections have been documented are not available to the public.

“She has information or data which we are not privileged to access, so we can not completely see and understand the rationale for the EO,” he said.

“The hospitals can by themselves deal with the many situations arising without the need for an over reaching Mayor’s EO… Trust the hospitals that they know what they are doing,” he said.

“The hospitals have the competence and the mechanisms to make policies based on their unique situations and based on current DoH (Department of Health), IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases), and other regulatory guidelines plus the current evidence,” he added.

COVID-19 News

Motorcycle back-riding allowed for couples starting July 10

DAVAO CITY — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said motorcycle back-riding will be allowed starting Friday, July 10, but only for married couples.

In a virtual press briefing aired from this city, Roque said back-riding will become effective on Friday when the guidelines are formally approved by the National Task Force (NTF) for COVID-19.

He noted that the matter had been earlier approved in principle by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

COVID-19 Davao City Davao Region

How much do we know (and not know) about the spread of COVID-19 in Davao Region?

I got this from Dr. Jack Estuart, a pediatrician here in Davao City: the word epidemic comes from the Greek “epi” meaning “upon” and “demos” meaning “the people.” Epidemiology, Dr. Jack said, is “the study of disease occurrence in populations. Occurrence means the distribution (data, quantified) and more importantly the analysis of its determinants.”

The context of our online conversation was the lack of data and information being provided by the Department of Health (DOH) in Region 11 specifically and DOH national in general. For the past three months the agency has been giving out daily updates but only in terms of new infections, deaths, and recoveries. It doesn’t give context. It does give out patient information, but even that is so lacking in detail that it is almost unusable.

COVID-19 Davao City

Contact tracing is PH’s ‘weakest link’ but mobile phones can help

Researchers at the University of the Philippines (UP) are pushing for the use of digital mobile technology to help fix what they call “the weakest link” in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic: contact tracing efforts.

“We continue to reiterate the need for an efficient and effective contract tracing system to track those who could have been exposed to the infective individual,” the researchers said in their latest forecast report released on May 8, 2020.

COVID-19 Davao City

UP researchers push further ECQ extension

With Davaoeños looking forward to the scheduled lifting of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) at 11:59 p.m. on May 15, it might be a good idea to — in the words of Mayor Sara Duterte — manage our expectations.


Region 11 patient profiles

It wasn’t easy but I’ve compiled all the COVID-19 positive cases in Region 11 in one Google Sheet file. One of the difficulties is that the Department of Health (DOH) has been giving out information through social media cards on Facebook instead of in a single document. This is made worse by the fact that the cards are not saved in a single album, which means one needs to scroll through all the posts to find them.

COVID-19 Davao City Davao Region

Davao City could see 190 cases, 30 deaths by May 15: UP researchers

Researchers at the University of the Philippines (UP) are forecasting that Davao City will have a total of 190 positive cases of COVID-19 and 30 deaths by the time the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) ends on May 15, 2020.

In its Forecast Report No. 5 dated April 29, 2020, the researchers said while the daily transmissions in Davao City had been reduced on the second week of April, there was a slight resurgence in the succeeding weeks.


Tech in the time of coronavirus

One day in elementary school a classmate of mine brought a small handheld gadget to class that got us all agog. I no longer remember what it was but it was made of metal and had rotating wheels that he would manipulate to add and subtract numbers. Naturally we all wanted to try it, but the commotion the little thing made caught the attention of our teacher as she walked in. She approached our classmate, asked what the object was, and when she heard the answer she promptly confiscated it and sent the poor boy to the principal’s office. She then launched into a lecture on how we must not rely on a gadget like that and instead make sure we knew how to do our math in our head.