The ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases in Puerto Princesa has overwhelmed its medical care capacity, local health authorities admitted on Thursday (April 22), as they expressed a dire warning over the worsening of the city’s pandemic situation.

Dr. Dean Palanca, head of the Incident Management Team (IMT), pointed out that while daily cases are turning out in record numbers, the hospitals are no longer capable of accommodating new patients.

[L-R] Dr. Dean Palanca, commander of Incident Management Team, Richard Ligad, head of City Information Office, and Atty. Norman Yap, spokesperson of city Inter-Agency Task Force, during the COVID-19 updated in Puerto Princesa City held at the City Hall.

The city has already on record a total of 284 COVID-19 cases with 41 new addition Thursday.  Authorities said even their quarantine facilities are already fully occupied, and hospitals can no longer accept new Covid patients.

They appealed for citizen’s cooperation in undertaking a hard lockdown for the next seven days of the five barangays where most cases have been concentrated, hoping that this will help contain the spread.

“We don’t know if they will be able to survive”

Dr. Palanca expressed desperation at the situation of many COVID-19 positive patients which he admitted is already beyond their medical capacity to control. He explained that because the  Ospital ng Palawan is already full, they are already forced to retain the positive patients in the facilities originally intended only for quarantine isolation.

He described their patients’ situation as dire.

“Ang mga positive cases inilalagay na rin natin sa mga hotel. Marami ang bumabagsak ang oxygen level. Hindi natin alam kung makakalabas po sila ng buhay sa ating quarantine facilities,” Dr. Palanca said.

“Gusto natin silang tulungan pero hanggang dito lang tayo makakatulong. Maraming pasyente na kritikal at serious ang hindi matanggap dahil puno na sila (ONP),” he added.

ONP has limited capacity

The Ospital ng Palawan, the main COVID-19 facility in the province, has only 2 isolation rooms for COVID-19 patients, both of which already nearly full, according to Dr. Palanca.

“May 2 isolation rooms sa ONP, yung  Isolation 2, more than half na ang nakahiga almost full na sila doon. Unti-unti na tayong nalulungkot sa mga nangyayari,” he said.

He noted that the ONP has a limited number of ventilators for critical patients.

“Kung walang available na ventilator at hirap na hirap kang huminga talagang sa Diyos na lang … hindi ganoon ka-capable ang dami ng equipment,” he said.

More cases undiscovered

Atty. Norman Yap, City IMT spokesperson, said they estimate that based on the city’s mortality rate and its correlation to the spread of the virus, there are more cases out in the communities that are not being discovered.

He noted that there have been eight deaths in the month of April and the present number of positive cases stand at 284. He explained that based on the country’s mortality rate of 2 deaths for every 100 cases, the case of Puerto Princesa City would indicate that there are around 800 more cases that are not yet discovered.

“Tumutugma ang antigen test natin kasi pumapalo na tayo sa 300 cases ang positive,” he said.

“Nangangamba ang mga doktor na hindi naibababa ang kaso. Mag-iisang linggo na tayong nag-ECQ, hindi man lang nag-plateau ang kaso,” he added.

Lockdown Guidelines

The City government released its guidelines covered under Resolution 38 imposing a “hard lockdown”, from noon of Friday until April 30, on the critical areas of Barangays Sta. Monica, San Jose, San Manuel, San Pedro and San Miguel.

Under the guidelines, the establishments allowed to open are as follows: hospitals medical clinics, vet clinics, sari sari, convenience store, grocery supermarket, fruit stand, veg stand, wet/dry market with covid marshall, water refilling, pharmacy, food delivery, public utilities, logistics supply chair delivery, courier services, banks , money transfer, gas station, construction, BPO (with private transport), machine repair maintenance, media and government offices.

Establishments not allowed to open: restaurants eateries, carinderia for dine in, hotels/pension houses expect facility, hardware, office supplies, motorcycle shops, laundry, printing, recruitment, security, leasing firms.

Movement of People

Entry/exit in critical zone are limited to: medical emergency, passing through national highway, APOR (doctor, nurse, hospital employees, public utility workers, cargo movers, logistics, mailing and courier, religious, lawyers, humanitarian actors, government employees/workers

Movement within Critical Zones

Allowed are: residents with quarantine pass, APOR. Not allowed are: workers coming into critical zone