The Incident Management Team (IMT) has assured travelers wishing to visit Puerto Princesa that they have nothing to worry about since there is no local transmission of the Omicron BA.2.12.1 subvariant.

IMT commander Dr. Dean Palanca stated in a recent press briefing that foreign and domestic tourists visiting the city have nothing to fear, as the Department of Health (DOH) has already stated that there is no local transmission despite the detection of the said subvariant on 12 foreign divers from Tubbataha in April.

“Let’s tell them that there is no ongoing local transmission of that (Omicron BA.2.12.1) subvariant in Puerto Princesa. This is what we want to tell the travelers who want to come to Palawan or Puerto Princesa — that there is no local infection of the subvariant right now,” Dr. Palanca said.

“We’re also saddened because it will affect our economy, our industry, our increasing tourist arrivals. This is the reason why we called a press briefing… so we can tell the people outside Palawan and Puerto Princesa that they should not think twice about coming to our city if they have meetings or vacation schedules ,” he added.

Dr. Palanca advised against terminating travels, reiterating that “there is no ongoing transmission” and that while the subvariant in question spreads swiftly, it does not cause fatal COVID-19 infections.

He said that Puerto Princesa should not be stigmatized due to the words “local transmission.”

“Its transmissibility is high, but it does not cause death. It is safe to go to Puerto Princesa; you can roam around here, but we should wear face masks that is common all over the country,” he said.

Dr. Palanca explained that this is the time of year when a large number of tourists visit the city, therefore COVID-19 detection and testing must be intensified despite the ongoing Alert Level 1.

The IMT will meet with the tourism sector the following week to discuss enhancing viral surveillance among visitors to Puerto Princesa.

According to him, this is because tourist frontliners are the first to interact with them upon arrival.

“We will ask our hotel owners, travel agencies, and tour guides to help. If they have travelers who are already coughing and experiencing flu-like symptoms, they must immediately inform their superiors so they can report to us, and we can have them tested,” he added.