The threat of the COVID-19 virus coming to Palawan is real, as recent developments both nationally and globally have shown. The number of persons falling ill from the virus is still on a steady rise, even as Puerto Princesa City and Palawan have remained virus-free as of this weekend.
The risk of Palawan joining the list of the growing number of cities and provinces having COVID-19 patients is a challenge that its residents will have to grapple within the coming days.
The city government early this week declared a state of health emergency to cope with the crisis, announcing classes suspension for at least a week and closing off the airport from domestic travel.
At the provincial level, towns are implementing common measures of containment along with the overarching strategy of “social distancing”. Fiestas and large gatherings have been suspended, and information campaigns were instituted. Some towns like El Nido are putting emphasis on strengthening its borders and encouraging tourists and visitors to leave.
It is fairly evident that we are at the doorsteps of a crisis that may escalate into levels even more difficult to manage. It requires effective preventive measures, perhaps in addition to what is already in place.
The public at large is unaware of what exactly is our level of preparedness on the governance side to deal with more compelling scenarios such as an actual COVID-19 case being discovered. Such preparedness will be tested by the community’s capacity to isolate the disease and manage patients properly. It includes the capacity of its front line health workers to deal with the situation, among others.
From recent days’ experiences, there have been both praises and criticisms from the public on how our local government units have so far handled the situation. There have also been suggestions on how best to handle things.
What we don’t see fairly well at this point in the crisis is the overall shape, the meats, and bounds, of our local government’s response. It is important for everyone’s sake to let this out in the open as soon as possible, to help guide the citizens on how they may act.
These extraordinary times require a smart and effective response, and the government is the main stakeholder in the community that has to lead the way. Transparency of government response, and its effectivity, is a critical need at this time.