The medical community is opposing the easing of border restrictions amid the surge in COVID-19 cases in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental, saying it will only worsen the situation.
The high number of COVID-19 cases do not even reflect the real figure, as those with positive antigen test results are not included in the report, Dr. Ronel Sario, Philippine College of Physicians – Negros Occidental chapter president, said.
Sario was reacting to the recommendation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to lift the negative RT-PCR test results requirement for travelers entering Bacolod City from Panay and Negros Oriental.
EOC executive director Em Ang earlier said Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia was expected to issue an executive order lifting the negative RT-PCR requirement in response to the request of the business community.
“As much as possible we should be strict at our borders, because we are faced with a surge that has not hit its peak yet,” Sario said.
Negros Occidental had 234 new COVID-19 cases and Bacolod City had 198 on Thursday, the Department of Health reported.
The DOH also said Negros Occidental had 1,683 active COVID-19 cases and Bacolod City had 1,186.
The COVID-19 reproduction number in Bacolod City has increased to 3.07 as of January 18 according to the OCTA Research group, Dr. Julius Drilon, CLMMRH chief, said.
“The reproduction number (Ro) is the number of cases directly caused by an infected individual throughout his infectious period. Ro is used to determine the ability of a disease to spread within a given population,” Drilon said.
He pointed out that the DOH has classified Bacolod as at critical risk for transmission and Negros Occidental at high risk.
The number keeps rising, lifting the negative RT-PCR requirement for travelers now would be “inviting trouble because of the propensity of the coronavirus to spread like wildlife”, Drilon said.
The Provincial Incident Management Team (PIMT) members are unanimously recommending to Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson not to lift his executive order requiring all travelers entering Negros Occidental to submit negative RT-PCR test results prior to arrival until the end of the month, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said.
The PIMT decision was based on the recommendation of the health sector, he said.
The provincial government has the authority to enforce the order on travelers arriving at the Bacolod Silay Airport in Silay City and at its borders with Negros Oriental, Diaz said.
The seaports fall under the jurisdiction of Bacolod City.
“With COVID-19 cases going up we cannot relax the rules now,” Diaz said citing the rising number of COVID-19 cases even among health care workers.
He said the governor had directed the PIMT to meet to come up with its recommendations,*