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Puerto Prinsesa nixes ECQ exemption

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The Puerto Princesa city government is preparing itself for the worst-case scenario of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the coming weeks as it will defer to the city health office to determine measures in controlling its spread in the locale.

City administrator Atty. Arnel Pedrosa revealed in a text message that Mayor Lucilo Bayron will no longer consider requesting the national government for exemption from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as originally planned come 30 March.

This, according to Bayron, is pursuant to the recommendation of Dr. Dean Palanca, assistant city health officer and now the Incident Commander of Puerto Princesa Task Force COVID-19.
Palanca said he decided to advise Bayron that the imposed ECQ would have to be extended because there were still flights operating to Puerto Princesa until 18 March after the lockdown was imposed in the city.

“All those passengers were considered as PUM (person under monitoring) on that flight of 18 March. Then if you count fourteen days, that would be 1 April, but our recommendation was to continue ECQ until the second week of April,” Palanca said, as all passengers on that flight are considered PUM.

Palanca said, if Bayron would allow, he wants to propose the ECQ to last for two months or until 30 April just to be safe.

“As a doctor, to be sure, I want the quarantine for at least two months,” Palanca said.

He admitted that the problem was that they did not have the capacity to test all PUM while also being faced with the issue of a undermanned health force.

“We have no capacity to test all those who have symptoms of dry cough or flu that’s why we keep on saying to please, if you have sickness while in your house, tell your health workers to give you medicines and never go out,” Palanca said.

“We cannot be complacent because the community does see what was happening to the frontliners that some of them are getting sick,” he added.

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