Graph showing the number of COVID-19 cases in Puerto Princesa City recorded in the past month.(Photo courtesy of Dr. Ralph Marco Flores)

The Incident Management Team (IMT) has noted a “fast increasing trend” in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the city, which it said was due mainly to large social gatherings.

“We have been observing a fast increasing trend in the number of active COVID-19 cases here in Puerto Princesa City and many were due to social gathering activities,” IMT head Dr. Dean Palanca stated in a letter circulated recently among major commercial establishments.

In its letter, the city government said that to avert the trend, it will start the strict enforcement of existing national guidelines on the holding of public events with large social gatherings, including the existing ban on alcoholic beverages in public places.

The guidelines include the prohibition of birthdays, anniversaries, receptions, team building activities, family reunions, and induction ceremonies of non-government agencies.

It pointed out that violations of these guidelines “shall constitute non-cooperation” and lead to sanctions as enumerated in the existing guidelines.

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It did, however, add that gatherings necessary for the provision of health care, government services, or humanitarian activities, such as religious gatherings with a 30 percent cap on actual attendance, will be permitted.

As of Wednesday evening data from the City Information Office (CIO), there were 313 COVID-related cases in the city, 58 of which were RT-PCR confirmed and 255 were tagged as suspect cases.

Dr. Ralph Marco Flores, head of the Incident Management Team’s (IMT) contact tracing, said that most COVID-19 patients reported went to a social gathering event that happened during the long weekend.

“The increase in cases would mean there could be a change in the baseline number of cases daily after the spike. Especially if we do not address it. Meaning, if we have a baseline of less than 10 daily cases before the spike, it may increase to two or three times, especially if we do not contain it. It is especially concerning because it may saturate our quarantine facilities and hospitals,” Flores told Palawan News.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.