City IMT head Dr. Dean Palanca at Sunlight Hotel, where he attended a meeting with the Office of the Vice President to discuss partnership plans. // File photo

The City Incident Management Team (IMT) is asking local barangays to open vacant school buildings as additional isolation facilities needed to bring down the current surge of COVID-19 in the city.

City officials are finalizing plans to use empty school buildings as quarantine facilities so immediate contacts of COVID-positive patients can be immediately isolated.

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COVID-19 patients in Puerto Princesa are currently being held in city hotels, some of which have been converted to function as hospitals.

The measure also hopes to bring back the previous efficiency of contact tracing efforts after national government officials pointed out the lack of contact tracing in Puerto Princesa City.

City Incident Management Team (IMT) chief Dr. Dean Palanca explained in an interview Thursday that they are finalizing plans to convert schools into quarantine facilities so that first generation contacts, who are usually immediate household members, can immediately be quarantined and have their movement restricted. He added that this strategy was being used in contact tracing efforts during the city’s previous encounters with COVID-19 surges.

“Kasi ‘yon naman ang ginagawa natin noon kaya maganda ang pag-handle natin. Pati ang mga close contacts talagang nabibitbit at dinadala sa isolation. Eh ‘yon na nga nagiging problema natin, na mayroong nagpopositive sa isang pamilya, and then mayroong close contact na infected na rin at wala pang nararamdaman, siya ang nakakalabas. Minsan lumalabas na ‘di nagsasabi, bagkus ang iba ay pumapasok pa sa trabaho, nagkakaroon pa ng infection sa workplaces,” he said.

Palanca added that he is hoping the plan will push through, but admitted that there are other considerations such as where to source beds for quarantine patients and how the facilities will be staffed.

“Hopefully mag-materialize ‘yan pero magiging malaking hakbang o project ‘yan kasi kailangan ng manpower, pati ang pagpapakain. Kaya tulong-tulong dapat ang bawat barangay na magha-handle niyan. Hindi na kasi IMT yan, kundi iba’t-ibang barangay ang magma-man ng mga lugar na ‘yan,” he added.

Palawan Medical Society head Dr. Paul Saludez previously explained that empty school buildings were being eyed to be used as quarantine facilities, especially for rural barangays. IMT nurse Cayen Cabiguen, whose viral Facebook post brought to light the struggles of healthcare workers, also spoke about plans to convert schools but questioned the feasibility of the plan due to the previous problem of lack of healthcare workers.

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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.