Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson on Thursday, July 22, ordered the enforcement of more stringent protocols for inbound travel to Negros Occidental effective immediately, to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant in the province.
Lacson signed Executive Order No. 21-38, Series of 2021 suspending Executive Order 21-34, Series of 2021, that allowed fully vaccinated individuals to enter Negros Occidental without negative RT-PCR test results.
The governor said the Delta variant has been linked to new COVID-19 case surges in India, Indonesia, Europe, Israel and the United States. So far 35 cases have also been detected in the Philippines, two of which were in Western Visayas, he added.
That is why all inbound passengers are now required negative RT-PCR test results valid 72 hours from the date of swab sample extraction, Lacson said in his EO.
Passengers who do not comply will not be allowed to travel to Negros Occidental.
The Negros Occidental provincial government will offer voluntary testing of inbound passengers at the airport and seaports and will bear the cost of the RT-PCR test, the EO also said.
Inbound passengers who avail of this service will be required to undergo facility quarantine at either a local government quarantine facility or an accredited provincial quarantine facility pending release of the results of their RT-PCR tests.
Inbound passengers should also secure an electronic printed copy of the approved travel coordination permit issued by the S-PaSS travel management system, and must show proof that they registered with the StaySafe.ph application for contact tracing.
NO ADD’L FLIGHTS
“Additional flights for fully vaccinated individuals have been put on hold until we are confident that the Delta variant will not enter Negros Occidental,” Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said.
“Delta variant cases are inching closer and closer to the province, based on unofficial reports,” he added.
Diaz said they are hoping the national Inter-Agency Task Force does not exempt inbound Authorized Persons Outside Residence from having to submit negative RT-PCR test results.
“It should apply to everybody because we know in the past that infection has come from APORs,” he added.
FASTER TEST RESULTS
A meeting with the mayors of Negros Occidental will be held Monday, July 26, to discuss the planned swab test procedure of the province.
The plan is to have all swab samples of inbound travelers headed for Bago City to Hinoba-an tested for COVID-19 at the molecular laboratory at the Valladolid District Hospital, and those taken from individuals bound for Talisay City to San Carlos City at the Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital laboratory in Silay City, Diaz said.
This will enable a faster turnaround time for the release of the test results of inbound passengers who are swabbed on arrival in Negros Occidental, he said.
The aim is to have test results out in 24 hours, he added.*