Doctors Eunice Herrera and Dean Palanca of the city IMT giving an update regarding the status of COVID-19 Omicron variant in the city during a press briefing.

The city Incident Management Team (IMT) said there is no ongoing local transmission of the COVID-19 Omicron BA.2.12.1 subvariant in Puerto Princesa.

IMT commander Dr. Dean Palanca clarified that while there was a recorded local case, it was the Omicron mother variant B.1.1.529 that was detected in a female resident infected by her partner who came from another country. It was also the same variant that was found in 12 foreign tourists who visited Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park during the final week of April.

“Nag-umpisa ito about two weeks ago noong nagpadala kami ng sample, noong nagkaroon ng case sa Tubbataha na mayroong nag-positive. Aside from Tubbataha, mayroon tayong isang sample coming from a local female, nahawaan ng kanyang partner na nanggaling sa ibang bansa,” Palanca said in a press briefing held on Wednesday.

“The following week, sinabi ng DOH na meron nang sub-variant na lumabas dito sa Puerto Princesa at kami ay naguluhan din kasi iba ang resulta namin from the result na galing sa result galing sa DOH,” he added.

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Palanca noted further that, due to the clustering of cases from Tubbataha, the Department of Health (DOH) did additional tests to identify and validate the type of variant, where the BA2.12.1 was discovered.

“Isang nakakalungkot ay sinabi na may local transmission ng subvariant dito sa Puerto Princesa na ang naging key kung bakit ay dahil may isinama kaming local. Dahil doon sa local female case, kaya nasabi nila na local transmission” he stated.

He, however, reiterate that there is no ongoing local transmission, and that the local female patient and her partner were immediately quarantined and tested at the time.

Palanca also allayed residents’ and potential visitors’ anxieties that the city has a new variant, expressing disappointment that the report is damaging Puerto Princesa’s economy, particularly the tourism business.

“Siya ay hindi na lumabas at pumunta kung saan saan. Yung kanyang family lang talaga ang kanyang naging contact at tinest na rin sila for RT-PCR at wala ring nag-positive,” Palanca explained, referring to the local female case.

“Nalulungkot din tayo kasi nga naaapektuhan dito ang ating ekonomiya, ang ating pataas ngayon na tourism. May nabasa nga ako kanina na more than 100 ang umatras na pasaherong pupunta sa Puerto Princesa dahil sa ganitong news. “Hindi sila dapat magdalawang-isip na pumunta kung meron silang scheduled na meetings o vacations dito ay huwag na nila i-cancel,” he lamented.

Despite the recent development, Palanca said there is no need for the city to implement stricter travel restrictions and instead, conduct a higher level of monitoring and surveillance.

“It is still safe to come to Puerto Princesa, you can roam around but we just have to follow protocols. Maliban dyan, i-increase yung ating detection and testing. Maaring gawin namin by next week yung surveillance sa ating travelers, lalo na yung mga turista. Kasi hindi na namin nakikita yung mga pumapasok – pagdating sa airport, temperature na lang, konting tanong. Wala na kaming manifesto kasi nasa level 1 tayo right now,” he said.

He said travel guidelines is always based on recommendations from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

Meanwhile, Dr. Eunice Herrera also said although they are not expecting another surge, they are always ready and will not be caught flat-footed like what happened before.

“We are still maintaining our quarantine facility (Skylight Hotel). Maroon din tayong Magarwak kung saan, mas Malaki ang maha-handle natin na cases natin. if in case dumami ang cases, meron tayong mapaglalagyan na iba,” Herrera said.

“Yung IMT, hindi pa rin nabubuwag. Kami pa rin ang nandidito, so same pa rin ang number ng staff namin. Mga medicines natin ay available. Nadala kami sa dalawang surge na nangyari kaya nakahanda kami when it comes to medicines, when it comes sa staffing, ready kami. Kaya nga ngayon, parang relax, nasanay kasi kami na toxic nung mga previous months pero ready kami. Kaya naming i-handle, tumulong sa mga hospitals natin, same team ready rin sila. Lahat naman nakapag-prepare sa possible na surge,” she added.

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