City IMT commander Dr. Dean Palanca during an online live briefing.

City officials stated on Thursday that Puerto Princesa’s COVID-19 situation has de-escalated, attributing this to the strict quarantine restrictions under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

The national government recently downgraded Puerto Princesa’s quarantine status from MECQ to general community quarantine (GCQ) from July 16 to 30. 

Incident Management Team (IMT) commander Dr. Dean Palanca said in a live briefing that compared to May and June, there are significantly lower active cases in July. Palanca attributed the decline to the strict public health protocols in place during MECQ.

“Makikita naman natin na ang ating cases ay slowly going down. Kung noong isang araw, two days ago, nasa 330 plus, as of today, nasa 304 ang ating [active] cases. Malayo na ‘yon kumpara sa dulo ng Mayo o paumpisa sa June, umaabot tayo ng mga 1500 to 1600 ang cases natin. Inaasahan natin na bukas, nasa 200 plus na tayo. Everyday ay bumababa ng 20 to 30 plus cases na tayo,” he said.

Palanca added that hospital beds and quarantine rooms have significantly freed up, wherein only 258 out of 800 beds are currently occupied as of Thursday. He cautioned the public as well not to let their guard down despite the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases.

City IATF spokesperson Atty. Norman Yap, also in the briefing, took a moment to thank Puerto Princesa City residents for adhering to the strict public health guidelines. He also commended the efforts of COVID sheriffs, health workers, and barangay officials.

“We learned that restricted social mobility does help in reducing the number of cases,” said Yap.

Vaccination helps
Palanca urged the public once more to get vaccinated to protect themselves from severe COVID-19. He explained that based on their records, the majority of those who passed away due to COVID-19 were unvaccinated, most of whom were aged 50 and above.

“Sa 75 na deaths, lima lang doon ang vaccinated. At first dose pa lang ang natanggap nila. Kung ikaw ay fully vaccinated, hindi ka mamamatay. Wala pa kaming kaso na fully vaccinated na namatay,” he explained.

He added that the daily death rate has slowed down to one or two per day, compared to six to seven daily recorded during May and June. The average deceased patient, he explained, was aged 50 years old and above.

GCQ and travel guidelines
Under GCQ, the city IATF relaxed some restrictions on business establishments. Outdoor dining is allowed at 75% capacity while indoor dining is allowed at a maximum of 50% capacity. Other establishments that may operate at 50% capacity include fitness centers, spas, and swimming pools, indoor and outdoor tourist attractions, meeting and conference venues, salons and barbershops, and aesthetic clinics. At 75% capacity, travel agencies and operators, and pet grooming salons may operate.

However, entertainment venues, amusement centers and parks, Internet cafes, billiard halls, cockfighting venues, and betting venues remain prohibited to operate. Curfew hours remain from 9 PM to 5 AM, along with the liquor ban.

The city IATF also requested from the regional IATF to allow inbound travel once more, but only for authorized persons outside residence (APORs) and returning locals. Travel guidelines for approval still require mandatory seven-day quarantine for all allowed inbound travelers, except for fully-vaccinated APORs staying in the city for only three days. If approved, flights to Puerto Princesa will also resume under commercial airlines, but only Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and only in the morning.