Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said the provincial government will insist on testing all passengers arriving in Negros Occidental by air and sea for COVID-19 and on their quarantine until their negative results are out to prevent a surge in local transmissions.
He pointed out that Negros Occidental’s COVID-19 active cases jumped by 21 overnight and all of those who tested positive came from outside the province.
If the testing and quarantine protocol of the province is lifted, Covid-positive travelers could enter Negros Occidental undetected, he said.
The National Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in Resolution 101, Series of 2021 issued Friday said testing is not mandatory for a traveler except if the local government unit (LGU) of destination will require it prior to travel.
Lacson said in a meeting of Western Visayas stakeholders Sunday, February 28, it was agreed that the LGUs in the region would continue with their existing protocols despite Resolution 101.
Even the League of Governors of the Philippines is making an appeal because its members do not like some of the provisions of Resolution 101, he said.
The Western Visayas Regional Inter-Agency Task Force on Sunday passed a resolution retaining the status quo on the requirements of the LGUs on the arrival of locally stranded individuals.
Lacson said right now LSIs and Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APORs) are adding to the COVID-19 numbers in Negros Occidental that is why the provincial government is insisting on testing and quarantine on arrival.
If they do not cooperate, he will pass an executive order requiring them to have RT-PCR tests three days before travelling to Negros Occidental with negative results.
That will actually save Negros Occidental from conducting tests for free on their arrival, he said.
However, testing them on arrival in Negros is much better because you can be sure of the results, Lacson said.
Allowing tests from the point of origin could result in something similar to what happened in Boracay where fake RT-PCR tests were presented, he said.
Lacson said Negros Occidental’s tourism industry is still not open to tourists from outside the province.
However, he may call a meeting of stakeholders to see if they are ready for tourists from outside the province.
At present only local tourism is being encouraged, he said.
Meanwhile, Lacson said when the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Negros Occidental the provincial government’s priority for vaccination will its health frontliners with 8,600 registered so far.*