(L-R) Palawan Governor Jose Ch. Alvarez and National IATF testing czar Sec. Vince Dizon during the vaccination rollout for tourism frontliners and workers at the Lio Tourism Estate inoculation hub in Barangay Villa Libertad, El Nido in northern Palawan. | Photo by Christine Gapulao

National Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) testing czar Vince Dizon believes that Palawan is well-protected against the COVID-19 Delta variant, citing strict border control measures in the province.

Dizon said on Tuesday, August 3, during the vaccination rollout of tourism workers in El Nido that there are extensive travel requirements even for national government officials and inbound travelers. He added that even tourists are still required to follow minimum health protocols and secure negative RT-PCR tests before visiting towns such as El Nido, Coron, and San Vicente.

“I think very strict ang border controls ni Gob [Jose Ch. Alvarez]. We have no doubt that border controls will be effective against [illegal entrants from] Malaysia,” Dizon said in an interview.

Malaysia is now battling its own surge of COVID-19 infections, which local authorities attribute to the highly infectious and fatal Delta variant. Fears of the variant entering Palawan through Mangsee Island, the part of Palawan closest to Malaysia, have been high due to the island’s notoriety as a “backdoor” to the province.

Authorities in Balabac town also assured in early August that they have strengthened their patrols in Mangsee, limiting visits to nearby Malaysian island Kudat.

Dizon assured that the country will be seeing more vaccine deliveries in the coming days. Mass inoculation has been pushed by the national government repeatedly as one of the only ways to protect the population from the Delta variant, which has been spreading rapidly in the past weeks.

“Ngayong araw na ‘to [Tuesday] may darating na Moderna, may dumating na Sinovac last week… So tuloy-tuloy naman tayo basta importante, tuloy-tuloy kung ano ang dumating na bakuna,” he said.