Since the global pandemic began early last year, one wouldn’t have thought Puerto Princesa City will experience the kind of outbreak it had seen in the past two months. The numbers don’t matter as much now as they did in the beginning when our eyes were glued on every known suspect case. It wasn’t too long ago when the city was kept awake at the news of the first post mortem Covid death in Barangay Tanabag and people avoided the place like a plague for two weeks.

Nowadays, we just stare with glassy eyes at the cases rising from near zero to now over 2,000 infected individuals as the surge continues. The deaths of people we know are numbing, and so is the affliction of many. This is such a small town, everyone, by now knows what it feels like.

What is more concerning is that COVID-19 has overwhelmed the city’s medical care capacity that we are forced to apply more restrictive measures of containment because we could no longer afford the situation to turn even worse. Left with few options, we have hotels turned into hospitals as the real ones have run out of beds.

We couldn’t anymore afford the gung-ho lockdowns we did in the beginning as the economy has already taken too much of a beating. We had been hoping that at some point in the past weeks the positivity rate of infections will go down, but it hasn’t.

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Also because we are not able to do mass testing, we wouldn’t know how many more cases are out there and are triggering off more infections. We are left with the hope that our vaccination rollout will catch up with the virus and stop it on its track. The science suggests it will, as evidence shows that vaccinations slow down the rate of infection and the severity of cases.

The Covid surge in Puerto Princesa City is also a hard lesson on local government preparedness which hopefully will bring about a leveling up of governance and awareness among our leaders and policymakers on the importance of being strategic in addressing gaps in our medical care capacity. We now realize we should have been more prepared for emergency situations like this. Moving forward, we expect to see more practical and well-thought legislative initiatives and policy responses, and less of the inane, knee-jerk suggestions that tend to distract us from more meaningful goals.

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