A government quarantine facility in Puerto Princesa under tight monitoring of healthcare workers. | Contributed photo

Healthcare facilities in Puerto Princesa have reached capacity as the surge of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city continued to rise in an unprecedented number.

Doctor Eunice Ponce de Leon-Herrera, City Incident Management Team (IMT) director for quarantine facilities, in a phone interview with Palawan News on Monday, expressed alarm on the persistent increase of COVID-19 cases in the city, subsequently hitting hard the capability of local health authorities in containing the spread of the highly infectious disease.

“Puno na kami, as in nasa 300 plus ang pasyente namin. Wala nang mga rooms ang mga quarantine [facilities] na hinahawakan namin. Even ‘yong mga staff ko na nurses, close contact na din sila ng mga family nila sa labas that’s why nakaka-sad,” Herrera told Palawan News when asked about the situation of quarantine facilities in the city.

The isolation wards of different hospitals in Puerto Princesa are also near maximum capacity, as several COVID-19 patients exhibited symptoms that require hospital care, resulting to understaffing of certain hospitals after each exposure with confirmed COVID-19 patient.

“Alarming in the sense na halos puno na ang isolation ng Ospital Ng Palawan. Ang Adventist Hospital may role naman pero konti ang staff nila hindi sila makapag-admit ng madami kasi naka-quarantine din ang nurses na iba dahil affected na din close contact din sila noong mga sunod-sunod na mga dead-on-arrival (DOA) natin. Si Coop Hospital may isolation, wala din magrun kasi wala ring nurses, ang mga nurses naka-quarantine din dahil doon sa sunod-sunod na hinawakan na DOA na ilang mga pasyente,” Herrera added.

Some medical frontliners also reportedly tested positive in COVID-19, decreasing the limited number of healthcare workers in the city. This forced the local officials to have each facility under “lockdown” to ensure healthcare workers will not contract the deadly virus from outside.

“Lockdown ‘yon ng mga quarantine facility, in short ‘yong mga quarantine nurses hindi ko na pinalalabas sa outside world. Kailangan mag-quarantine na sila  kasi hindi naman na ordinaryong tao ‘yong mga naqu-quarantine ngayon o naapektuhan even ‘yong mga health workers,” Herrera said.

Herrera explained that the healthcare workers assigned on each quarantine facility were not allowed to go home at the risk of getting the virus from the members of their family.

“Kung ikaw ‘yong quarantine nurse na naka-assign sa facility na ‘yan, hindi ka na rin lalabas, hindi ka na muna uuwi sa family mo for the next 14 days para if in case sa family mo meron hindi mo mahahawa ang mga kasama mo sa loob ng quarantine facilities na mga nurse. Kasi definitely doon sa loob ng facilities walang hawa-hawa doon kasi lahat naman ‘yon ay naka infection prevention and control,” Herrera explained.

As of Monday, there are 21 active COVID-19 cases in Puerto Princesa alone, from a total of 261 confirmed cases, with 232 recoveries and eight deaths.

(with a report from Ruth Rodriguez)