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Several municipalities have imposed border restrictions alongside strict health safety measures, cutting off regular travel routes to Puerto Princesa City, citing as the basis the recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the capital.

Aborlan and Narra on Friday (February 19) released similarly crafted executive orders that included, among other provisions, a requirement that people coming from Puerto Princesa City should undergo a 14-day quarantine if they will be staying in town for more than a day.

Earlier, the island town of Linapacan also suspended travel to Puerto Princesa City and imposed similar quarantine restrictions.

Brooke’s Point was first to issue a travel restriction policy on Thursday (February 18) but decided to withdraw the same the following day, stating it will release a revised travel policy.

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Aborlan, the town that shares common borders with Puerto Princesa City, is now requiring its residents to seek travel clearances from the local health office before they are allowed to leave for the city. The particular restrictions in effect allow only authorized persons outside residence (APOR) and those with medical needs to travel to Puerto Princesa City.

Aborlan municipal health chief Dr. Fidel Salazar said in a social media post on February 19 that Mayor Celsa Adier’s Executive Order (EO) No. 21-012 was released following an incident involving a recent visit of a resident from the city who later turned COVID-19 positive.

“Noong nakaraan February 12, 2021, may umuwi sa bayan natin na COVID-19 suspect para dalawin ang kanyang magulang. Ayon sa kanya, ang kanyang shuttle van na nasakyan ay punuan at hindi niya matandaan ang pangalan ng van at mas lalong hindi niya kilala ang mga nakasakay niya pauwi rin ng Aborlan,” Aborlan municipal health chief Dr. Fidel Salazar said

“Pagbalik niya ng Puerto Princesa City, siya ay agad na sumailalim sa swab test, [at] ang resulta noon ay naging positibo siya sa COVID-19. Dahil dito at dagdag pa ang pagtaas ng mga kaso ng local transmission ng COVID-19 sa lungsod, ay binuo ang E. O. No. 21-012 upang mabawasan kung hindi man mapigilan ang pagkalat ng COVID-19 na maaaring nakapasok na sa ating bayan,” he added, saying contact tracing is now being carried out in Aborlan.

Only Aborlan vendors will be allowed to sell their products on Market Day with face masks and shields in the public market, according to the EO.

Aborlan Market Day policy

Public vendors and marketgoers will have to strictly observe physical and social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The EO said there will be marshals who will make ensure strict monitoring.

Curfew hours in Aborlan have been set from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Narra restricts travel

Similar provisions were contained in the order issued by Acting Narra Mayor Crispin Lumba, in the advisory that was released also Friday. The town has organized a Border Control Task Force to oversee the implementation of its travel protocols.

Travel from the town to the city, according to the Order, is limited to essential and indespensable travel, including that for a medical purpose.

Community transmission cases rise in Puerto Princesa City

COVID-19 cases in Puerto Princesa City have peaked at 38 confirmed cases this week, coming mainly from contact tracing on the case of an elderly patient who died at the Ospital na Palawan (ONP) on February 7.

From only five remaining active cases, the city’s COVID-19 tracker jumped to 14 immediately following initial contact tracing effort, and gradually increased as more persons were subjected to tests.

Previous to the travel advisories released by the municipalities, the provincial government issued a directive urging local government units to impose strict health safety measures in view of the COVID-19 situation at the capital.

Linapacan restrictions

Dr. Charlie Tejada, in an advisory issued on Facebook on Friday, said the Linapacan municipal IATF adopted the recommendation suspending travels of returning individuals coming from Puerto Princesa.

“Pansamantala munang sinususpende ang pag-uwi o pagdating sa bayan ng Linapacan ng mga returning individuals na galing sa Puerto Princesa City at iba pang lugar na may local transmission ng COVID-19,” the statement read.

Individuals who had travel history from the city within 14 days are required to undergo quarantine in their isolation facility at Patuyo Island in Bgy. San Miguel in the island town of Linapacan.

“Ang lahat na mayroong history ng biyahe sa nakalipas na 14 na araw sa PPC at iba pang lugar sa Palawan na mayroong  community transmission ay diretso sa ating quarantine facility sa Isla ng Patuyo, San Miguel, Linapacan, Palawan at isasailalim sa 14 na araw na quarantine,” the statement added.

Other restrictions

Under the restrictions imposed in the executive orders, mass gatherings, such as church activities, community meetings, cockfighting, videoke/karaoke sessions, microfinance transactions, and public meetings, will be temporarily banned for the next 14 days.

Birthdays, weddings, and baptisms will be allowed with attendees not exceeding more than 10 but will require coordination with the Municipal Health Office (MHO). Funerals ceremonies honoring dead persons will also be allowed, but should only be held for not more than 7 days, with limited visitors, and must only be until 10 p.m.

Roxas awaiting guidance

For its part, the municipality of Roxas said they are awaiting further guidance from the provincial government for their own border policy.

“I-adopt lang namin ‘yong EO ni province [na nilabas nakaraan],” Roxas Administration office Vic Lagera told Palawan News

(With reports from Romar Miranda, Patricia Laririt, Celeste Anna Formoso, Aira Gennesa Magdayao)

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