The national Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has approved a moratorium on air and sea travel of passengers from the National Capital Region Plus and Cebu to Western Visayas from April 4 to 10, Juan Jovian Ingeniero, Department of the Interior and Local Government 6 regional director, confirmed Sunday, April 4.
NCR Plus includes Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal that will remain under Enhanced Community Quarantine until April 11.
Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas, who requested for the moratorium, told DIGICAST NEGROS that DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III informed him of the IATF approval of his request late Saturday, April 3.
Treñas assured that the movement of cargo and travel from Iloilo to Bacolod City and vice versa will remain unhampered in the meantime.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said travelers from Negros Oriental will be allowed entry into Negros Occidental provided they test negative for COVID-19 and have an S-PaSS.
The moratorium on travel from NCR Plus and Cebu will give the provincial government time to focus on COVID-19 local transmissions, Lacson said.
The provincial government is waiting for the published IATF resolution on the travel moratorium so it can be enforced, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said.
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said Sunday that he is asking the IATF to temporarily suspend all inbound travel to Bacolod City up to April 14, as a surge control measure in the light of the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases.
Leonardia made his appeal for a 10-day moratorium through the Regional IATF Sunday.
The decision to appeal was agreed on by Leonardia and other city officials during an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss more proactive measures in containing the surge of COVID-19 cases, he said.
“There is good reason for us to recommend a 10-day moratorium for travel into Bacolod given the increase in positive cases over the last two weeks, and considering also the number of cases in Manila from where many of our arrivals originate,” Leonardia said.
City Administrator Em Ang, executive director of the Emergency Operations Center, reported that the number of COVID-19 cases in Bacolod multiplied fourfold — from a daily average of 4.42 cases recorded from March 7 to 20, to a daily average of 20.36 cases recorded from March 21 to April 3.
“The developing situation could be much worse. We do not want to have an ECQ status again”, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran said.
Aside from the proposed moratorium, the meeting also tackled matters geared towards controlling and containing the COVID-19 surge in Bacolod.
The city officials discussed the strict implementation of the S-PaSS requirement for incoming passengers and more strict observance of minimum health protocols at the barangay level and in major areas like markets, Ang said.
Other measures were also proposed such as a more stringent liquor ban, longer curfew, prohibition of “super spreader events” and mass gatherings, and expanded surveillance testing, she added.
To ensure the strict compliance of the protocols during travel within Bacolod, the city officials will be meeting with members of local transport groups, including jeepney operators and drivers, trike operators, shuttle/van operators, and taxi operators.
This will be done together with officers of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO).
The LTO and BTAO are tasked to monitor public utility vehicles not following the standard operating procedures during the pandemic, especially on the maximum number of passengers in each vehicle.
Barangay captains in Bacolod will also be briefed on the current situation of the city and will be mobilized to further strictly implement minimum health protocols.
Also discussed during the emergency meeting were plans to increase the medical manpower of the City Health Office, stocks of COVID-19 drugs, and supplies of PPEs and test kits, Ang said.
Reports of fake RT-PCR results in some areas were raised at the meeting. Those caught committing this offense will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, the city officials said.*