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LGUs pick up passengers as travel moratorium ends

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Vehicles of Negros Occidental local government units began picking up arriving passengers headed for their areas at seaports and airports Tuesday, April 20, with the end of the moratorium on travel to Western Visayas, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said.

This is being done so persons entering their localities can be monitored for COVID-19, to prevent a further surge of the virus, Diaz said.

Victorias City announced that all travelers from outside Region 6, except for government Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APORs) on official business, will be tested on arrival for COVID-19.

There were reported cases of four APORs, six Overseas Filipino Workers, and one Locally Stranded Individual who submitted negative RT-PCR results taken from their point of origin but turned out positive for COVID-19 on arrival in Victorias, the city advisory said.

About 250 passengers from Manila and Cebu arrived on Tuesday, Zeaphard Caelian. Provincial Incident Management Team head, said.

The provincial government is appealing to incoming passengers to volunteer to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival and to be quarantined until their negative test results are out in 24 hours, Diaz said.

This is for their safety and their families, he said.

“This has to be done to prevent the spread of the virus and more deaths”, he said.

Incoming passengers must coordinate with their destination LGU and must secure an approved S-PaSS and have a verified StaySafe account, he said.

Those who fail to signify in their S-PaSS that they will voluntarily agree to be tested for COVID-19 and be quarantined on arrival, will have to submit negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test results taken within 72 hours before their departure for Negros Occidental, he said.

Testing of incoming passengers is necessary to prevent a further rise in COVID-19 cases, Diaz said.

The Department of Health on Monday tagged Negros Occidental as a high risk area for COVID -19.

Diaz pointed out that the surge in COVID-19 cases in the province began when the national Inter-Agency Task Force prohibited the provincial government from conducting mandatory RT-PCR tests on incoming passengers who were then quarantined until their negative results were out.

“This is not economic recovery, this is worst than before,” he said.

The surge has resulted in the filling up of hospitals with COVID-19 hit patients, more than 40 of whom are at the Cadiz District Hospital and 20 at the Valladolid District Hospital, he said.

Quarantine facilities of the province are also filling up with persons who have tested positive for COVID-19, he added.

Diaz said travel moratoriums that create a lot of stress on residents who want to return home are not necessary.

What is needed is a steady but calibrated return of passengers, he said.

“We want to create a safe bubble in Negros Occidental where movement of residents will be free,” he said.

That bubble was destroyed by IATF Resolution 101, he said.

“Our situation will improve if we are allowed to do mandatory testing and quarantine (of passengers) upon entry,” Diaz said.

Negros Occidental has allocated funds to continue the testing of incoming passengers, he said.

They have 80,000 test kits and are procuring 30,000 more, he said.

Testing for COVID-19 is the next best thing with the lack of COVID -19 vaccines, we need to identify isolate and cure, Diaz said.*

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