(Left) LIATF spokesperson Atty. Norman Yap and (right) acting city information officer Richard Ligad.

City netizens welcomed with a sigh of relief the city government’s decision to recall a recent policy allowing COVID-19 probable cases to return home without undergoing facility quarantine.

The city government, in a Wednesday presser, also vowed to find other ways to address its lack of applicants willing to staff new quarantine facilities needed to cope with a surge in cases that began in early March.

“A wise, rational and decent move to recall the earlier decision,” Leon, a local resident, commented in a Palawan News comment thread.

“Salamat naman po at nabago ang desisyon ninyo. The whole city got a big scare on your previous decision,” Maria Luz, another commenter, added.

The fear of a worsening COVID-19 situation had been stoked by the city government’s admission late last week that it could no longer manage the surge of suspect cases arising from contact tracing.

With all its facilities already full and with no available manpower to allow them to open up new hotels as quarantine facilities, health authorities earlier announced they will allow asymptomatic Covid suspect cases to return home for self isolation.

An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 persons who had been reactive to antigen tests and possible COVID-19 cases are currently distributed in various hotels around the city converted as quarantine facilities.

City officials admitted they had found it difficult to recruit additional personnel as health frontliners because of the job’s attendant risks and stiff requirements, including mandatory quarantine if they become exposed to positive patients.

City IATF spokesperson Atty. Norman Yap said the decision to revoke the controversial policy was reached in a meeting today.

“Hindi tayo magpapauwi ng mga suspect and probable patients for home quarantine. Instead, magdadagdag tayo ng mga quarantine facilities na tatawagin nating “self care” facilities,” he said.

He said the self-care facilities will no longer be closely manned by their limited health frontliners who will concentrate on the serious and critical cases.

“Yung mga maadmit doon ay mild, asymptomatic, at antigen positive patients na di na kakailanganing bantayan ng healthcare workers. Babatayan na sila na di sila aalis sa facilities. Ito ay para mabantayan ng mga healthcare workers ang mga critical cases,” he said.

“Magdadagdag tayo ng mga healthcare worker, at kung sino ang mayroon muna tayo, doon muna sila sa mga critical,” he added.

Meanwhile, Atty. Yap also said the city will request the national IATF for a continuation of the travel ban once the existing prohibition expires on May 6.

“Kung mae-extend ang travel ban, extended din ang exemptions. Yung APORs ng national government, kailangan pa ring mag-quarantine for 10 days at their own expense. For OFWs, kailangan nakumpleto ang 14-day quarantine,” he said.

He also clarified that the city government will no longer seek a higher risk classification of Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) for the city but will observe the trend of cases.

“Hindi muna tayo mag-aappeal. Naoobserve ng INT na baka nagkakaroon ng quarantine fatigue ang mga tao. Observe muna natin ang GCQ, bala-balansehin ang bawat hakbang natin,” Yap said.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.