City health authorities have raised concerns about the seriousness of COVID-19 cases they are observing in Puerto Princesa, with an increased number of patients showing severe symptoms and fewer patients turning out to be asymptomatic
Dr. Dean Palanca, head of the City Incident Management Team (IMT), said the symptoms displayed by patients currently under isolation and treatment are different from what used to be mainly cough, colds, and fever.
“Ngayon napapansin natin na may additional na kakaibang symptoms – suka-tae, sobrang sakit ng ulo,” Dr. Palanca stated during a live report where he announced the death of a 25-year old patient, the latest COVID-19 death recorded in the city.
Dr. Palanca also noted that “60 to 70 percent” of current COVID-19 cases in Puerto Princesa are symptomatic, compared to the previous months where most reported had been asymptomatic.
“Dati mas marami yung walang symptoms pero positive sa Covid. Ngayon mas marami yung may symptoms,” he said.
Dr. Palanca did not say if they are coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) on specifically determining if a new and more aggressive virus strain is present in the city.
The city currently lists at least only eight active cases, those that have been determined by the gold-standard RT-PCR tests, but more are expected to be positive but have not been classified officially due to the current absence of testing cartridges at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) laboratory.
In addition, about 200 close contacts of current patients have been confined at the city’s quarantine facilities as a result of contact tracing efforts, according to Dr. Palanca.
Reduced testing capacity
Dr. Palanca also explained that due to the reduced capacity of the ONP laboratory conducting RT-PCR tests or swabs, they have been allowed by the Department of Health to treat those who test positive through antigen and the saliva tests currently being administered by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), as COVID-19 cases in terms of case management.
“Dahil sa kakulangan ng ating cartridges, may guidelines na ibinaba ang Department of Health na gamitin ang antigen testing. Right now, for the past two weeks nag implement kami ng tests for suspected Covid patients,” he said.
He cited their recent experience where during one-week testing using antigen, they determined over 70 positive cases already.
City areas flagged for suspect COVID-19 cases
In an unprecedented move, the City IMT also disclosed the specific areas that they have marked as having Covid suspect cases, as a way to encourage local residents to minimize their own exposure to the virus.
Areas cited as having Covid cases: Purok Gumamela, Sta. Monica (1 case); Brgy Montible; Castro Road, San Pedro; Recaido St. , Brgy Maunlad; Brgy Montible; Brgy. Tagburos (6 cases); 1 case in Purok Imelda, Sta. Monica; Purok Abanico, San Pedro; Brgy. Mandaragat; BM Road, San Manuel; Libis Road, San Pedro; 2 cases in Santol Road, Brgy San Jose; Brgy. Inagawan; Golden Valley, Sicsican; Bougainvilla St., Sta. Monica; Abad Santos St., Brgy Masipag; Valencia St. Brgy Masipag; Mendoza St., Brgy Model; Bonifacio Road, Brgy. Bagong Sikat; Bucana, Iwahig; Santos St., Brgy. San Jose; Rizal Avenue, Brgy. Tagumpay; and Purok Lapu-Lapu, Brgy. Bagong Silang (multiple cases).
Earlier, the City IATF decided to continue the travel ban for incoming flights, for residents. (with reports from Loren Jane Tumalac, Romar Miranda and Patricia Laririt)