More or less 6,000 residents have been vaccinated so far in Puerto Princesa, targeting to inoculate at least 180,000 individuals to achieve herd immunity. || Photo courtesy of Puerto Princesa City COVID-19 Vaccination Program

The city government plans to boost its testing capacity and its vaccination rollout, amidst a surge of COVID-19 cases.

One hundred eleven individuals tested positive for SARS-nCov-2, the causative agent of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), out of 120 persons tested, according to the latest bulletin from the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU).

The city’s “mega vaccination” campaign at the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum administers at least 500 individuals per day. || Photo courtesy of Puerto Princesa City COVID-19 Vaccination Program

Dr. Guido David, OCTA Research Group fellow, in an interview over Teleradyo on Monday, said Puerto Princesa’s “positivity” rate stood at 77 percent which is significantly higher than that of Metro Manila’s 12 percent, citing this may have resulted from the city’s lack of testing.

“Kulang sila sa testing. Mukhang kinakapos ‘yong testing nila doon kasi dati hindi naman sila nagkakasurge, baka kulang ang test kits nila. Halos 8 out of 10, pag sampung may nagpa-test, eight doon nagpopositive (In Puerto Princesa, their positivity rate is at 77 percent, it’s really high. They lack testing, it seems like they lack testing because they don’t have a surge before. Maybe they lack test kits. If there are 10 people who get tested, almost eight turn out to be COVID-positive),” David said in an interview over Teleradyo.

The Ospital Ng Palawan GeneXpert COVID-19 Laboratory suspended operations last week, between May 10 to 14, for “cleaning and maintenance”, according to hospital director Doctor Melecio Dy.

As of Monday morning, the city’s ongoing surge reported 423 active cases, from a total of 1,478 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,024 recoveries and 31 deaths.

Dr. Ric Panganiban, head of City Health Office (CHO), said that the local government will boost its testing capability, aiming to open a molecular laboratory by next month.

“Ang ating target ay bago matapos ang buwan na ito ay mag-operate na. Sisikapin natin na sana ngayon buwan ay ma-approved na. Hopefully, ay June operational na,” Panganiban told the City Council during the Question Hour on Monday.

Panganiban added that the laboratory is now at the “last stage of preparation”, pending proficiency certification of the medical technologists from the Department of Health (DOH).

“Last stage na ng preparation, ‘yong proficiency ng ating mga med tech na ipapakita nila sa DOH na sila ay bihasa na sa paggamit ng makina. Eventually, ay ipapa-inspect ulit natin ang ating facility, may mga nakita last inpect na may dapat baguhin then kapag natapos papainspect ulit natin,” Panganiban added.

Racing against time before the anti-COVID vaccines expire by June 30, private doctors alongside government healthcare workers, joined forces to hasten the vaccination rollout.

“Problema ang medical assessment na doctor lang ang pwedeng gumawa,” Panganiban explained.

Last weekend, on May 15, city mayor Lucilo Bayron met with doctors from the Palawan Medical Society (PMS) and sought help in the administration of the vaccines for city residents.

At least 6,633 individuals received their first dose of vaccine, while 1,921 completed their second dose as of Friday, according to the data from the Puerto Princesa City COVID-19 Vaccination Program.

The city health authorities hold 15,330 vaccines, 9,130 were from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac and 6,200 from British-Swedish company Oxford-AstraZeneca.

“AstraZeneca mag-eexpire by June. On track naman tayo, by May ay mauubos na [ang current supply],” Panganiban said.

Expecting deliveries from purchased 200,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 jabs by July, the city aims to inoculate at least 180,000 individuals to achieve herd immunity from at least 70% of its city residents.

Of the total target number of inoculated city residents, “more or less” 6,000 individuals have been vaccinated so far.

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