MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said there is no evidence that the removal of the requirement for RT-PCR tests for travelers to Palawan was the reason for the surge in cases in Puerto Princesa City.
In April, five villages in Puerto Princesa were placed on lockdown due to a spike in COVID-19 cases a month after Palawan reopened for domestic tourists.
"Wala tayo nakikita sa ngayong ebidensya na yung pagtaas ng kaso sa ibang lugar ay dahil sa imported cases," Health Director Alethea De Guzman said in an online press conference.
(We do not see any evidence that the rise in cases in other areas are due to imported cases.)
"Ito'y mga local cases na walang travel history outside of their area," she said.
(These are local cases which do not have travel history outside of their area.)
Palawan's decision to stop asking tourists to submit RT-PCR tests has little to do with the rise in cases in the province, De Guzman said.
"Even if there is no PCR testing being done in the borders, hanapin mo sino ang symptomatic sa mga papasok sa iyo," she said.
"The symptom screening, exposure screening, can help weed out kung sino na ang direct sa isolation dapat," she added.
President Rodrigo Duterte had said he would place parts of the country under another lockdown should there be a spike in fresh COVID-19 cases.
As of May 17, Puerto Princesa City has 502 active COVID-19 cases out of the total 1,582 recorded infections. Region-wide, there are 1,127 active cases in Mimaropa.
Over a week ago, the OCTA research group cited Puerto Princesa as among "areas of concern" outside of Metro Manila, along with Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga City and Bacolod due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.