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Place Negros Occidental under GCQ until April 30, guv asks IATF | ‘Stringent measures needed to curb surge in COVID cases’

Provincial Consultant Alfredo Benitez, Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer, Rep. Francisco Benitez and Cadiz Mayor Salvador Escalante (l-r) at the emergency meeting Friday, April 9.*Richard Malihan photo

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson asked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Friday, April 9, to place Negros Occidental under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) until April 30 to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases in the province.

GCQ safety measures such as border control, modified home quarantine and swabbing and facility quarantine of incoming travelers have proven to be effective safeguards in the past in protecting Negros Occidental from the dreaded pandemic, Lacson said.

“We on the ground and on the frontlines fighting against the spread of COVID-19 firmly believe that taking a step back and reverting to GCQ will address the overwhelming spate of COVID-19 cases in our locality,” he said.

Lacson made the appeal in a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque, IATF chairperson, and Secretary Carlito Galvez, National Task Force on COVID-19 chief implementer, following an emergency meeting with the mayors of Negros Occidental Friday morning.

Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante moved to call for the province to be placed under GCQ, which was seconded by Bago City Mayor Nicholas Yulo at the meeting at the Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City.

Negros Occidental, that is currently under Modified General Community Quarantine, on Thursday recorded 742 COVID-19 active cases.

The province had 317 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, its highest number in a single day, said provincial consultant Alfredo Benitez, who was also at the emergency meeting.

On Friday, 176 more COVID-19 cases were recorded in the province.

“If this will continue we will most likely break our historical high of 1,683 active cases,” he said.

“The unprecedented and exponential rise of COVID-19 cases in high-risk areas such as the National Capital Region and its bubble circuit, Cebu and Davao and the possible spill-over of COVID-19 cases into the province has greatly affected the status of our public health, limited resources as well as stability of our local economy,” Lacson said in his letter.

Placing the province under GCQ will mean less people allowed at public gatherings and on public transportation, Lacson said in an interview.

“We will follow the omnibus guidelines on GCQ”, he said.

The Negros officials, however, agreed not to slow down the movement of cargo, Lacson said.

ON BACOLOD

The decision of the Negros Occidental officials does not cover Bacolod City that is a highly urbanized city.

Lacson said he will inform Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia of their decision because it would be ideal for them to be under the same quarantine level.

There has also been a surge in COVID-19 cases in Bacolod City that Leonardia has called alarming.

TEST ON ENTRY

The mayors, at the emergency meeting, also agreed to sign an appeal to the IATF-EID for Negros Occidental to be allowed to tests passengers on entry in the province for COVID-19 and be quarantined until their negative results are out.

The IATD-EID has not responded to a previous request of Lacson.

“Maybe if all the mayors sign the appeal we will get a favorable reply,” Lacson said.

Also at the meeting were Rep. Francisco Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District), Rep. Stephen Paduano Abang Lingkod Partylist), Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz, Provincial Health Officer Ernell Tumimbang and Provincial Incident Management Team head Zeaphard Caelian.*

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