Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron file photo.

Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, issuing a rare open letter to the public on Tuesday, called on residents of the five locked down barangays in the city proper to go into “voluntary quarantine”, citing the increasing threat of a COVID-19 surge.

Mayor Bayron said he himself decided to isolate even after testing negative today (Tuesday), after three of his personal staff contracted the virus and one had died.

Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron appealed in an official statement Tuesday to all city residents, whether they live in the five barangays under a hard lockdown or not, to stay at home as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Personal akong nananawagan at nakikiusap sa lahat ng mga mamamayan sa loob ng ECQ areas (Barangays San Miguel, San Pedro, San Manuel, San Jose, at Sta. Monica) at maging sa mga mamamayan ng iba pang mga barangay (urban and rural) na mag-voluntary home quarantine muna tayong lahat upang mapagtagumpayan natin ang laban sa malawakang community transmission na ating kinakaharap ngayon,” Bayron said in the statement.

Bayron reported that he, along with his daughter Raine, took an antigen test on Tuesday morning because they were close contacts of one of his staff who had tested positive for COVID-19. He said their tests were negative but that they were still advised to go undergo quarantine until Thursday.

The letter was posted on the Facebook page of the City Mayor’s Office on Tuesday.

Bayron’s appeal followed an earlier admission by local health authorities that the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases has overwhelmed the city’s medical care capacity, prompting the full lockdown of the five barangays where most of the cases have been reported.

The five “critical zone” barangays are Sta. Monica, San Jose, San Manuel, San Pedro, and San Miguel – all contiguous districts within the city proper.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the city has seen an all-time high since the pandemic began last year, with the current surge accounting for 269 active cases. Ten persons have already died, most cases happening over the last month.