The tight community quarantine in Barangay Sta. Monica was extended for three days as local authorities continue to grapple with the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the flu season begins.

Village chief Ronaldo Sayang, in a phone interview with Palawan News on Friday morning, confirmed that modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) within the containment zone and general community quarantine (GCQ) surrounding the buffer zone of Sta. Monica will remain until July 15, pending the reassessment from the local Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Disease (EID). The 14-day lockdown started on June 29 and was supposed to end on July 12.

Sayang added that the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) and the local officials, who were in-charge of the food aid distribution, were also conducting “house-to-house initial assessment” among the residents.

“Chine-check din nila kung meron ba sa pamilya ang may sakit. Ang advise naman ng City Health Office (CHO), quarantine muna sa bahay kasi nga uso ang trangkaso ngayon,” Sayang said.

The local residents, who were showing “flu-like symptoms”, were not being tested even with the rapid diagnostic test (RDT), and were instead advised to remain in isolation. The self-assessment measure was to differentiate between COVID-19 and the common colds symptoms.

According to the Department of Health (DOH) Memorandum Circular No. 2020-0180 issued on April 16, individuals who are showing mild or moderate symptoms with relevant travel within a locality that has community transmission were categorized under subcategory B, and may undergo “expanded testing”.

Sayang pointed out that the CHO’s advise, through incident commander Dr. Dean Palanca, was to continue “monitoring individuals with flu-like symptoms”.

During the Questioning Hour with the city IATF before the City Council on Monday (July 6), councilors Peter Maristela and Elgin Damasco expressed concern on the imposition of the lockdown without testing the affected residents.

The manifestations, however, were immediately struck down after the local IATF pointed out that there were some 2,401 households within the containment zone which would require at least P3.6 million for the expanded testing using RDT.

Bgy. Sta. Monica was initially considered as an emerging hotspot for COVID-19 in Puerto Princesa after seven confirmed cases were reported within the area, which the local health authorities confirmed as “community transmission”.