The city government has expressed relief that the COVID-19 surge that began in September has fizzled out, with new cases significantly dropping down this month.

Data reported by the Incident Management Team (IMT) on Monday, however, showed the highest casualty records ever experienced by the city since the pandemic began, with the highest number of deaths reported in October and November.

There were 100 deaths recorded in the city in October, followed by 63 in November.

Puerto Princesa IMT commander Dr. Dean Palanca observed that most of the death cases were unvaccinated elderly persons.

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“Makikita natin, October, grabe talaga [ang mortality] kasi dito talaga ang peak. Dito talaga tumaas ang mga kaso natin. At nitong Nobyember, pababa ang ating mga kaso, mayroon tayong 63 na namatay,” he said.

“Nakikita natin kung sino ba talaga ang naapektuhan. Yan ang mga tao na wala talagang bakuna, 57 out of 63 ay mga walang bakuna,” Palanca added.

He noted, however, that compared to the previous months, cases of deaths significantly went down in November.

“Nasa one or two na lang ang ating mortality [for November], at nagkaroon tayo ng apat na araw na walang mortality,” he added.

Palanca also noted that there was a significant drop of COVID-19 active cases towards the end of November. From past 1,100 cases starting early October, only a total of 292 active cases were recorded by November 30.

Palanca attributed the decline to ramped up contact tracing and testing, compliance of the public to minimum health protocols, and vaccinations.

“Dire-diretso ang pagbaba natin [ng active cases]. Kung matatandaan natin, noong last month, mga second week of October, around 1,100 ang mga kaso natin. At nitong patapos na ng October, unti-unti na siyang bumababa,” he said.

Palanca also expressed optimism that the downward trend will continue towards the Christmas holidays.

“Maaring pagdating ng December, o kalagitnaan ng December, ang cases natin ay dire-diretsong bababa,” he said.

“Multiple factors ‘yan [sa pag-decline]. Number one, ito na rin ang ating COVID response, mayroon tayong systems na ipinatutupad dito na ikaw ay nag-positive, kino-contact trace talaga at tine-test. Twice na ang kanilang testing ngayon. Pangalawa, ang awareness ng public, na kapag may sintomas sila, nagpapatest sila. Lastly, nakakatulong talaga ang pagbabakuna,” he added.

Palanca, however, cautioned the public to still be mindful of public health protocols and to get tested as soon as they suspect that they have contracted COVID. He stated that even though the city government has relaxed more measures to prepare for the tourism industry’s reopening, the danger of the Omicron variant could upend everything and set back Puerto Princesa to a hard lockdown.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.