Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson issued an executive order Tuesday, March 30, requiring all travelers to Negros Occidental to undergo RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 and quarantine on arrival until their negative results are out, effective 12 a.m. Thursday, April 1.
Executive Order 21-18-A, Series of 2021 requires the implementation of uniform travel protocols under Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution 101 with revisions amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the province.
Lacson also issued EO 21-20, Series of 2021 Tuesday, extending the Modified General Community Quarantine in Negros Occidental up to April 30.
All travelers entering the airports and seaports of Negros Occidental shall undergo mandatory swabbing for COVID-19 RT-PCR testing regardless of destination, Lacson said in EO 21-18-A.
All travelers will also be quarantined until their negative test results are released by Department of Health accredited laboratories, he added.
All COVID-19 swab tests and quarantine will be free at the expense of the Negros Occidental provincial government, he said.
On March 13, the governor had issued EO No. 21-18 adopting Resolution 101 that allowed travelers to be tested for COVID-19 from their point of origin and to no longer be quarantined on arrival.
However, the governor said, as a result of the implementation of EO No. 21-18 the COVID-19 positivity rate at the Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital molecular laboratory in Silay City increased from 3.08 percent to 22.73 percent.
COVID active cases increased from 57 to 305, and the number of those isolated in quarantine facilities increased from 22 to 111 individuals.
Lacson said the provincial government has felt defenseless from the onslaught of COVID-19 positive individuals coming from other parts of the country.
He also pointed out that on March 19 the provincial government of Negros Occidental discovered a modus operandi of unscrupulous persons at the ports of Manila selling fake negative RT-PCR results to travelers bound for Negros Occidental.
Eight returning Kabankalan residents admitted paying P900 in order to secure negative COVID-19 RT-PCR results without undergoing testing, Lacson said.
There is a current COVID-19 epidemic surge in Negros Occidental that prompted the Provincial Incident Management Team to recommend reverting back to the previous protocol for travelers, he said.
The Negros Occidental Association of Chief Executives also issued a similar appeal, he said.
Government Authorized Persons Outside Residence will not be required to undergo the mandatory testing and quarantine, but are encouraged to voluntarily submit to it considering that APOR’s have a history of being COVID-19 carriers, Lacson said.
At the Bacolod-Silay Airport, only one flight per week per airline for the Bacolod-Cebu-Bacolod route, and two flights per week per airline for the Manila-Bacolod-Manila route will be allowed, the EO said.
Only 199 passengers per flight will be allowed, and for shipping companies 150 passengers per day, it added.
Lacson in his EO set aside the rule allowing private vehicles from transporting passengers to and from airports, seaports and terminals.
APOR passengers will only be transported by shuttle service provided by their companies, and the LGUs of destination will provide the transportation for non-APOR passengers, he said.
Since the possible source of COVID-19 are people illegally crossing the borders of Negros Occidental, all local government units, the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Coast Guard are enjoined to heighten their security and patrol of ports and borders of the province, Lacson said.
Lacson said all provisions of the executive order may be subject to review by the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases.
There are 34 new COVID-19 cases in Negros Occidental, the Department of Health reported Tuesday.
He also received word that private hospitals are full of COVID patients, “which is not good, we should be concerned”, Lacson said.*