Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson is asking the national Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF- EID) for a two-week travel moratorium of all land, air and sea travel into Negros Occidental amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
“I believe that this is imperative in order to protect our constituents, our local economy and our future as a province,” Lacson said in a letter he signed today, March 21, to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Cabinet Secretary Carlo Nograles, IATF-EID co-chairpersons.
Lacson said he would like to prevent the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 within the province that is clearly brought by Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI), Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOP), and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROF).
“If I stand idly, I fear that our gains in the past year will be put to waste, to the detriment of our people,” he said.
The provincial government of Negros Occidental and the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 would like to request for a temporary travel moratorium on all air, land and sea travel to Negros Occidental effective immediately and for a period of two weeks from the date of approval by the national IATF, Lacson said in his letter.
The IATF-EID omnibus guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine states that inter-zonal movement of persons are allowed provided that they be subject to reasonable regulation imposed by the LGUs concerned, Lacson pointed out.
Lacson said the provincial government has adopted IATF-EID Resolution 101 requiring the uniform implementation of travel protocols.
Under Resolution 101 the provincial government can no longer conduct COVID-19 RT-PCR tests on incoming passengers and quarantine them until their negative results are released. They can only be tested prior to arrival in the province.
Local governments reported 0-10 confirmed cases in their jurisdictions on February 23 with the exemption of Silay City that had 13 cases, Lacson said.
The introduction of uniform travel protocols required under Resolution 101 has resulted in increasing COVID-19 cases in many LGUS in Negros Occidental, specifically in Victorias City, Manapla, Cadiz City, Sagay City, Escalante City, Calatrava, San Carlos City, and Sipalay City, he added.
He also said starting March 15 the Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital molecular laboratory showed an alarming rise in COVID -19 positive cases to an overall rate of 5.95 percent.
The rise in LSI-positive cases was at 8.52 percent and domestic cases at 4.91 percent, he said.
The provincial quarantine facility for COVID-19 confirmed cases with mild symptoms is nearly reaching its maximum capacity, Lacson also said.
Negros Occidental had 25 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and none on Sunday, the Department of Health reported.
Thirteen of those who tested positive were LSIs, 11 local residents and one returning overseas Filipino, the DOH said.
The DOH said Bacolod City had three new COVID-19 local cases on Saturday and 11 on Sunday.
Mayor Jerry Treñas said the national IAFT has denied their requests for a two-week moratorium on travel to Iloilo City and province also due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, IATF Resolution 104 released today said no lockdown, just added restrictions would be imposed in Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and the National Capital Region, where rising COVID-19 cases have been reported, until April 4.
Only essential travel in and out of those areas will be allowed, the resolution said.*