Dr. Dean Palanca, chief of the Puerto Princesa City Incident Management Team (IMT), said Monday that they will not relax their guard in 2022, despite the continuing decline in active COVID-19 cases.

In a live briefing on Monday, he said they’ll be watching to see whether active cases rise, especially since Metro Manila was just raised to Alert Level 3 owing to an increase in COVID-19 incidents.

Cases of the new Omicron strain have been documented in the National Capital Region from the last week of December 2021.

“Right now, mababa pa rin ang kaso natin, at babantayan natin ito for the next few weeks. Naghahanda na rin ang IMT sa pagdating ni Omicron sa Puerto Princesa. Dadating at dadating ‘yan, hindi natin siya kayang i-stop,” Palanca said.

“Mag-ingat tayo. Babantayan natin yan sa Puerto Princesa. So once na makita natin na tumataas ang mga kaso natin, eh, malamang, ‘yan na ang mitsa na start na ang Omicron na mananalasa. So huwag tayong papetiks-petiks,” he added.

As of Monday, January 3, there were only 24 active cases left in Puerto Princesa City. Despite the small number of cases, the city government still requires fully-vaccinated travelers (returning residents and visiting officials staying longer than five days) to secure a negative antigen test before flying to the city. The city will remain under Alert Level 2 from January 1 to January 15.

Palanca also stated that 2021 was the most challenging year for the IMT. He stated that a total of 430 people died due to COVID-19, 90 percent of whom were either partially or not vaccinated.

“For the last year, ang naging total active cases natin ay 13,465. ‘Yong ating total death last year is 430, and out of that 430 ay 90 percent unvaccinated o partially vaccinated,” said Palanca.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.