Puerto Princesa City on Monday began to impose tighter measures in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, with City Mayor Lucilo Bayron abruptly ordering the temporary closure of its two public markets, as two more new positive cases emerged from ongoing swab tests.

The temporary closure of the markets, to be done one after the other, and their decontamination, is part of the contact tracing efforts that began last week when a spike of cases were reported in Barangay Santa Monica, according to Palawan News sources

Earlier, the city government locked down portions of the barangay for a 2-week community quarantine centered around the residential location of at least five active cases.

Latest 2 cases

Dr. Dean Palanca, Incident Management Team (IMT) commander, in an announcement aired live on Facebook Monday, said that a 25-year-old locally stranded returnee and a 55-year-old city resident were the latest confirmed COVID-19 cases in Puerto Princesa City.

“Merong 20 na pasyente, mga close contacts ng confirmed COVID patients, at iba ay pasyente sa facilities na nagkaroon ng sintomas. Out of 20 results, meron ng partial na inilabas na results. Out of 20, merong another two cases ng confirmed COVID-19 sa Puerto Princesa City,” Dr. Palanca said.

The recent two cases were part of a batch of 20 swab tests performed by the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) RT-PCR GeneXpert laboratory over the weekend.

Dr. Palanca said that the 25-year-old LSI arrived on June 18 (not June 28 as earlier announced) via an AirAsia flight. However, no such flight was recorded by the airport officials.

The 55-year-old patient was a close contact of the previously reported cases, which the local health authorities has declared as “community transmission”.

“Isang female, 25-years-old, actually siya po ay isa sa mga LSI na dumating via Air Asia noong June 18. Habang nasa facility nagkaroon siya ng sintomas. Kaya siya ay dinala sa ating isolation facility. Siya yong isa. Ngayon, yong pangalawa ay isang babae rin, siya ay 55-years-old, close contact siya ng isang naging COVID case natin noong nakaraang linggo,” Dr. Palanca said.

Six IgM and IgG reactive returnees

Dr. Palanca added that they have also completed that collection of swabs from 16 additional “close contacts” of previously announced COVID-19 cases.

He said also that they are still waiting for the confirmatory results of the others from the batch of 20 swabs they took this weekend.

“Today tinapos na rin natin yong… nagkaroon pa rin kami ng swab for RT-PCR test today… ito ay 16 close contacts noong mga ibang COVID positive cases. Ipapadala ito ngayong hapon sa ONP para ito ay ma-examine. Hopefully, one to two days ay lalabas na ang results nito,” he said.

He added that from 2GO Shipping Lines that arrived Sunday (June 28), 90 returnees (87 LSIs, 2 APOR, and 1 OFW) and were transported to their quarantine facilities.

Out of the total number, three passengers were detected Immunoglobulin M (IgM) reactive and three were responsive to IgG upon their arrival.

“Out of 90, noong dinaan sa rapid diagnostic testing, tatlo po dyan ang IgM reactive ay tatlo din dyan ang IgG reactive. Ibig sabihin, yong ginawa nating RDT, anim ang reactive. Itong anim ay nasa quarantine ngayon at sila ay… out of that anim, yong tatlo ang idadaan natin sa swab test at ii-schedule lang sila,” he said.

There are now 31 confirmed COVID-19 patients in Palawan province, with four recoveries, one casualty, and 26 active cases — 12 in Puerto Princesa, three in Coron, six in Sofronio Española, three in Busuanga, and two in Bataraza.

The Palawan province has reported its 15th patient on June 20, an 8-year-old female LSI in Sofronio Española who arrived on June 14 aboard 2Go Shipping Lines. She is a relative of Patient No. 14.

(With reports from Celeste Anna Formoso and Ruth Rodriguez)