Galvez to visit Puerto Princesa to assess COVID surge

National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF) chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. will visit Puerto Princesa on Thursday to assess the local situation after the city government sought its intervention amid its rising cases of COVID-19.

Mayor Lucilo Bayron said their call for NIATF intervention was prompted by a recent OCTA Research Group noting Puerto Princesa City’s 77 percent “positivity rate”.

“Yong sinasabing positivity rate, yong tini-test natin ng confirmatory test — yong RT PCR — positive din yon sa antigen test. Kasi ang ginagawa dito sa Puerto, ini-screen muna yong halimbawa close contact at saka yong mga nagkakaroon ng mga symptoms,” Bayron explained.

“Ina-antigen test para ma-screen. Yong mga nag-negative twice, binibitawan yon, [pero] twice sila dapat mag-negative [sa antigen]. Yong nag-positive kahit na once [lang] iko-quarantine [natin], tapos isu-subject sa confirmatory test. Totoo talaga yong antigen test, 80% yong reliability niya kaya siguro 77% nang tini-test natin nagpo-positive kasi mga antigen test positive sila,” he added.

Bayron also said because the GeneXpert laboratory at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP), the only RT-PCR testing center in the city, was subjected to preventive maintenance on May 10-14, no tests were conducted. He said when its operation resumed, it was expected that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases would suddenly increase.

During the temporary suspension of its operation, Bayron said the city Incident Management Team (IMT) continued to conduct antigen testing, and in the process, collected more cases for confirmation.

“Expected naman yon dahil sa marami talaga ang naipon na dahil five days walang testing. So, ang increase niya kung yon lang ang titingnan without any knowledge kung ano ba yong background, talagang maninerbiyos ka kung taga-Puerto Princesa ka dahil hindi tayo sanay ng 111, 104 na new cases,” he added.

Because of the situation, Bayron said he had to seek intervention from regional and national officials.

“Nagreach out tayo sa regional IATF at saka sa national IATF. In fact sa Thursday, darating dito sila Sec Galvez kasama yong members ng NIATF, si Sec. Vince Dizon kasama, yong mga members ng regional IATF para tumulong hanapan ng solusyon yong surge ng Covid, hindi lang sa Puerto Princesa [kundi] kasama na ang probinsya ang Palawan sa mga munisipyo,” he stated.

The mayor also added that because of the rapid increase in the number of cases, the city government was caught off guard having limited number of personnel to man the quarantine facilities of the city.

“Naipaabot natin ang ating concern na hirap tayo humanap ng mga medical health care workers, although meron tayong pang-hire sana, pero walang takers kasi kung magtatrabaho sa quarantine facility o isolation facility yong health care workers, hindi makakauwi everyday. Parang naka-quarantine din sila syempre madadala nila ang problema sa pamilya nila kaya walang masyadong takers. Saka marami nang nahire natin siguro naubos na natin or meron pa rin dyan pero hindi sila interesado,” he said.

Aside from the NIATF, Bayron also said he has already sought assistance from the Department of Health and private health groups.

He further explained that they have already made moves to contain the spread of the virus but it may take some time.

“May mga measures naman tayo na na-put in place, pero talagang matagal ang effect sa ating sitwasyon sa covid dahil talagang malakas makahawa itong Covid na ito. Kasi yong ino-operate na vaccination site sa coliseum medyo mahina talaga, he sais.

“Ang pinakamarami nilang na vaccinate in one day 600 kaya ngayon humingi na tayo ng tulong sa DOH sa PMS nga na tumulong sila sa vaccination dahil sa tingin natin yong vaccination ay malaki ang kanyang role para ma-contain natin itong problema at saka para mabuksan na natin ang ating economy,” Bayron further added.

He also lamented that while the city government continues to remind the public about health protocols, many residents seem to not pay attention and still don’t take the pandemic seriously.

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