Puerto Princesa City, Palawan—There is community transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) here, city health officials said Saturday night.
Dr. Dean Palanca, head of the Incident Management Team (IMT) of Puerto Princesa, said they swabbed 46 suspect cases of COVID-19 and out of them nine were confirmed positive through reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP).
Palanca said of the nine, two are imported cases from outside Palawan, and seven are local transmissions, indexed to an 82-year-old patient from Barangay San Jose who died due to the coronavirus disease on Feb. 7 at the ONP.
“So, we again have seven new additional local cases, and we are now in what we call community transmission,” he said.
Palanca said prior to the detection of the seven new cases, 15 close contacts who lived in a compound with the deceased patient from San Jose had already been determined as COVID-19 positive.
One case was detected positive on Feb. 9, followed by 14 cases on Feb. 11, he added.
Palanca said all seven new cases are related to the local transmission case that emerged from San Jose. Four are from San Jose, one from Barangay Mandaragat, one from Barangay Milagrosa, and one from Barangay San Pedro.
“If you will see, the cases are no longer just from San Jose, but are from other barangays as well. Right now, we’re still testing a few more from the San Jose compound, but those from Mandaragat, Milagrosa, and San Pedro -- they are all work colleagues of those who became positive cases from San Jose,” he said.
City IMT operations officer Kent Ventura said that due to the sudden spike in the number of local transmission cases, they have stepped up their contact tracing efforts and information dissemination campaign to prevent the further spread of the disease in Puerto Princesa.
“Our contact tracing remains ongoing, our contact tracers never sleep,” Ventura said.
The city government also announced the reimposition of strict curfew hours beginning Sunday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., along with stricter quarantine measures for 14 days.
During the same briefing, City Health Office chief Dr. Ric Panganiban said more stringent measures will be in place in Puerto Princesa considering the sharp spike in COVID-19 cases.
“We will also increase the presence of our Covid marshals. And maybe, we have forgotten because we’re under MGCQ, the only people allowed to go out are those in the age range 15 to 65 years old. We see in the malls that people appear to have forgotten this sometimes, there are also babies. We will again re-impose this. At the same time, we will also request offices to reduce their workforce to 50 percent,” Panganiban said.
He added the workforce reduction will only last for seven days starting Feb. 15.
City Hall’s Monday flag ceremony is also suspended until further notice, according to city administrator lawyer Arnel Pedrosa.