City health and local authorities have begun an extensive contact tracing effort to determine the source of infection of the elderly patient from Barangay San Jose who died of COVID-19 Sunday afternoon at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP).

Dr. Dean Palanca, head of the city Incident Management Team (IMT), said in a FB live announcement that they are making an effort to identify the source of the infection of the patient, noting that the deceased had no travel history.

“Kasalukuyang ginagawa ang contact tracing ‘yung mga close contacts para sila ay ma-quarantine at naka-schedule ang kanilang RT-PCR test sa lalong madaling panahon,” Dr. Palanca said.

Meanwhile, local officials of San Jose said they are placing under close watch with tightened health protocols the area around the residence of the deceased.

Village chief Estrella Salvador, in a phone interview with Palawan News, said that the patient’s residence and neighbors on Lomboy Street would be closely monitored, but insisted that the barangay officials cannot enforce a localized lockdown.

“’Yung compound nila ‘yun lang ang babantayan namin na hindi sila makalabas kasi may gate naman sila. Naglagay ng tanod dito sa may kalsada kasi may gate naman sila. Simula ngayon maglalagay ng tanod hanggang 14 days,” Salvador said.

“Walang lockdown ang barangay, ‘yong IATF lang ang puwede mag-declare kung ilo-lockdown ‘yang area na ‘yan. Pero kami sa barangay wala kami[ng discretion] na i-lockdown,” Salvador added.

The deceased was an 82-year-old female who was reported to be a local transmission case and had no travel history. She passed away Sunday afternoon.

The case is the first recorded COVID-19 hospital death in Puerto Princesa City and the 2nd official death since the pandemic lockdown in March 2020.

The deceased patient, who had no travel history but had other known co-morbidities, first had a sore throat for the past five days. She was initially brought to Adventist Hospital Palawan (AHP) after her symptoms worsened.

The patient was transferred to the ONP, the province’s primary COVID-19 facility, after her condition did not improve, which prompted health officers to try for intubation to help with respiration.

The recent deceased patient marked Puerto Princesa’s second COVID-related death, after the 63-year-old male patient from Barangay Tanabag who tested positive right after his burial on April 21, 2020. (With reports from Ruth Rodriguez and Romar Miranda)