Dr. Dean Palanca, IMT head, and city information officer Richard Ligad announcing the declaration of "critical zone" covering the PSU Campus and the Court of Justice.

The City government has placed a portion of Barangays Sta. Monica and Tiniguiban in Puerto Princesa City under  “extremely restrictive perimeter control” or strict lockdown effective Monday (February 22) to contain a spreading case of COVID-19 infection earlier described as a case of community transmission.

Dr. Dean Palanca, city Incident Management Team (IMT) head, announced the imposition of the lockdown in a live public update Sunday afternoon.

The quarantine zones as described under Local IATF Resolution 26.

The area that will be cordoned off and designated as “critical zone” covers the entire Hall of Justice Compound along F. Rafols Road in Barangay Sta. Monica all the way to the Palawan State University (PSU) Main Campus at the Tiniguiban Heights in Brgy. Tiniguiban.

The city’s Local Inter-Agency Task Force Against COVID-19 (LIATF) stated under Resolution No. 26 that was approved February 16, a copy of which was obtained by Palawan News, that the area categorized as critical zone will be subjected to de-contamination and “extremely restrictive perimeter control”.

The order said that the quarantine measures will be in place for 15 days at the least or until March 6, 2021. There will be a re-assessment of the situation on February 26.

The city IATF said they decided to impose the strict lockdown over the area following rapid tests conducted among employees of PSU and the courts, “considering the proximity of the identified government offices, the nature of their functions, the interaction of their personnel and tests conducted”.

The rapid tests, the IATF stated, were conducted during a 48-hour period and resulted to three PSU employees and 10 court employees yielding reactive results. The employees concerned had been placed under quarantine and subjected to confirmatory RT-PCR testing.

The immediate area surrounding the PSU Main Campus and the Court of Justice was also declared as “containment zone” where there will be “strict perimeter controls”. The area has been classified as  “modified enhanced community quarantine” area.

As work is suspended on both offices, the IATF said that the submission of pleadings and papers filed before the court may be suspended “at the discretion of the Supreme Court.”

The resolution noted that there were two active COVID-19 cases are from PSU and a eight from the Hall of Justice Compound. All the patients are cases of local transmission. The resolution added that three employees from PSU and ten employees from the Hall of Justice Compound were reactive to rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) conducted in the past 48 hours since the resolution was issued. The employees are now undergoing confirmatory swab tests and were subjected to facility quarantine.

Puerto Princesa City currently has 38 active COVID-19 cases. A total of 29 of the 38 cases are local transmission cases who are close contacts of the deceased 82-year-old female patient from Barangay San Jose, according to the City Information Office (CIO).

The announcement reiterated the continuation of a 10 pm curfew over the city and the reduction of work forces in establishments by 50 percent.

Mass gatherings are also no allowed, except for celebratory activities such as weddings, where only 50 capacity will be observed. (With reports from Jeshyl Guiroy)