The National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 is currently monitoring the situation in Palawan amid the spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in Puerto Princesa City, Malacañang said on Thursday.
“Based on my understanding the National Task Force is going there to assess the needs of Puerto Princesa City,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser in Filipino.
Puerto Princesa is under a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) until May 31.
Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, in an television interview on May 10, attributed the rise in Covid-19 cases to the easing of travel restrictions.
When Palawan province reopened for domestic tourism in March, the provincial government decided to scrap the requirement for tourists to undergo reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing prior to their arrival to the province.
The Department of Health on Tuesday said there is no evidence that the removal of the requirement for RT-PCR test for travelers to Palawan caused the surge in Covid-19 infections in Puerto Princesa City.
Roque said NTF Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. is expected to bring antigen test kits in the province to boost the coronavirus testing in the area.
“It is really necessary to boost testing amid the rise in cases in order for us to know who must be isolated,” he said in Filipino.
Apart from Puerto Princesa City, the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus, composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, is also under GCQ but with “heightened restrictions.”
The government allows 30 percent capacity for religious services in GCQ zones.
However, the imposition of GCQ “with heightened restrictions” in NCR Plus limits the capacity of religious gatherings at 10 percent.
Roque explained that the capacity limit in NCR Plus is merely “temporary.”
“Do not worry because it is just temporary. It is intermediate between our transition from MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) to GCQ. So, we are gradually opening [more sectors]),” he said partly in Filipino.
The City of Santiago in Isabela, Zamboanga City, Quirino, and Ifugao are under the more restrictive MECQ until May 31.
The more relaxed GCQ is also imposed in Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon, Iligan, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur.
The rest of the country remains under the least restrictive modified GCQ.