(PN file photo)

City health officials on Thursday downplayed Octa Research’s tagging of Puerto Princesa’s “high positivity rate,” noting that active cases remain low and on a decline.

Lawyer Norman Yap, spokesperson of the City Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), on Thursday said that the Octa report was only based on RT-PCR tests resulting from hospital compliance upon admission of patients.

“The information I have from Dr. Dean [Palanca] is that OCTA’s report is based on RT-PCR test results and that majority of the RT-PCR positives are hospital patients who had already tested positive through antigen,” Yap said.

As of February 23, there are only 62 active COVID-19 cases, from a total of 4,618 reported cases, with 4,266 recoveries and 290 deaths.

Yap pointed out that the positivity rate of infections from antigen-tested individuals remained low at six percent.

“Positivity rate in contact-tracing, using antigen test, is low. According to Dr. Dean, we are averaging at 6% (and not at Octa’s data of 39%),” Yap said.

“We are told that they had to take RT-PCR as a confirmatory test to comply with, among others, PhilHealth requirements and ICU isolation protocols. This explains the so-called “high positivity” rate,” Yap added.

OCTA Research said Wednesday that Puerto Princesa City recorded the highest positivity rate at 39 percent, followed by General Santos City at 33 percent, and Iligan and Naga at 21 percent.

Puerto Princesa City, which was downgraded to Alert Level 2, has relaxed public health restrictions as of Feb. 17, clearing the path to recovery by easing travel restrictions and opening more destinations to attract visitors.

Lawyer Arnel Pedrosa, city administrator, on Thursday added they are waiting for the National IATF to decide on the alert level status of the city for March 2022.

“The city will just wait for the decision of the national IATF,” Pedrosa said.

Pedrosa also deferred the resumption of in-person classes to the qualifications set by the national agencies tasked to rollout guidelines such as the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DepEd).

“The city’s positivity rate is now on the decline and that was the reason why our classification was downgraded from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2. If the city’s alert level status will allow face-to-face classes and the school is chosen then no problem with us,” Pedrosa added.

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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.