(File photo)


The Ospital Ng Palawan (ONP) GeneXpert laboratory is running low on supplies needed to continue performing confirmatory COVID-19 tests, as more tests are expected in the wake of a steady rise in the number of positive cases in the province.

The Department of Health’s (DOH) tracking system as of Saturday 3 p.m. showed that ONP only has 122 remaining cartridges, even with an expected increase in testing needs in the coming days.

At least 20 swabs have been lined for testing on Friday, mostly from law enforcement officers who were close contacts of two detainees found out on the same day to be positive for the virus.

Romalyn Racho, regional head of Health Education and Promotions Unit (HEPU) of the DOH, said, however, that they are sending 300 replenishment cartridges to ONP, to arrive “maybe early next week”.

“Ang update sa amin from USEC’s office ay may 300 cartridges na daw na coming for ONP,” Racho told Palawan News.

P/Col Sergio Vivar Jr., city director of Puerto Princesa City Police Office (PPCPO), said their crime prevention and anti-illegal drug operations will continue despite the setback. 

, in a separate phone interview confirmed that 32 police officers, who were part of the City Drug Enforcement Unit (CDEU), are now placed under quarantine after two detainees tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. They were part of the arresting team of the two coronavirus disease positive persons deprived of liberty (PDL).

“13 ang naka-quarantine ngayon, ‘yong remaining bukas ico-conduct ang rapid test. ‘Yong 19, tomorrow will be undergoing the rapid test depende sa bilis ng City Health [Office] (CHO) natin,” Vivar said.

Of the 32 police personnel, 13 were nonreactive to rapid diagnostic test (RDT) so far.

“Actually ‘yong 13 ay negative sa rapid test so ni-require lang mag-quarantine sila ng 14 days,” Vivar added.

Vivar also remained confident that the city police force operations would not be hampered by the mandatory 14-day quarantine of its 32 uniformed officers.

“I have 500 personnel under me so walang problema. May quarantine facility sila sa isang hotel,” Vivar added.

JS/Insp. Irene Gaspar, warden of Puerto Princesa City Jail (PPCJ), in a separate interview, said that seven jail guards and 13 other detainees would undergo a confirmatory test for COVID-19. They were considered close contacts of the two COVID-19 positive PDLs.

“Pina-swab namin ‘yong 15 [PDLs]. ‘Yong 15 na ‘yon, may nag-escort doon na seven naming personnel at PNP na ni-request namin kasi kulang kami pero ‘yong sa PNP naka-sunod lang walang direct contact. Ni-request namin na ma-swab nandito sa amin naka-facility quarantine,” Gaspar said.

The Palawan province now has a total of 42 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 10 recoveries, one casualty, and 31 active cases, as of 3 p.m., Saturday (July 4).

Of the active cases, 16 are in Puerto Princesa, six in Bataraza, two in Cuyo, one in Taytay, and three each for Sofronio Española and Busuanga.

(With reports from Jayra Joyce Taboada, Ruth Rodriguez, and Celeste Anna Formoso)


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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.