The governors and mayors of highly urbanized cities of Western Visayas will implement a uniform protocol requiring all travelers, except for Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APORs), to have negative RT-PCR test results prior to entry into the region, Local Government regional director Juan Jovian Ingeniero said Tuesday, March 16.
The request for authority to also require APORs negative test results will be elevated to the national Inter-Agency Task Force, said Ingeniero, who is also the chairperson of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force.
The uniform WV protocol for negative RT-PCR test results of the incoming passengers taken 72 hours before their travel to the region was agreed on at a virtual meeting of the leaders of Western Visayas, he said.
Concern has been raised over an increase in the number of passengers entering Negros Occidental and Bacolod City who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Bacolod City Administrator Em Ang, who is also executive director of the city Emergency Operations Center, said.
Bacolod recorded nine COVID-19 cases today, three of whom were Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and one APOR.
The three LSIs had travelled from Manila to Iloilo, and onward to Bacolod. They were discovered to have COVID-19 when they were tested for the virus for their onward travel to Dumaguete City, she said.
She said because no negative RT-PCR test results were required of them on arrival in Iloilo they were able to slip into the region with undetected COVID-19.
It is a concern that passengers from Manila and other parts of the country are passing through Panay without negative test results, and travelling on to Bacolod, she said.
Bacolod and Negros Occidental require negative RT-PCR test results from all incoming passengers, except those coming from the rest of Western Visayas.
Ang said there is a need for heightened vigilance in light of the increasing COVID-19 cases.
She said the nine new COVID-19 cases Tuesday are the highest in Bacolod in nearly a month and half, because previously the numbers were between zero to three.
Mayor Jerry Treñas said Iloilo City requires all incoming passengers from outside WV to have negative RT-PCR test results on entry.
Ang and Negros Occidental Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz also said allowing APORs entry without negative RT-PCR results is also a concern.
Diaz said he does not see why APORs cannot be required negative RT-PCR results on entry. There is a history of APORs arriving in Negros Occidental who have infected local residents with COVID-19, he said.
Why should they be treated differently? he asked, adding that the provincial government is lobbying for their inclusion in the rule requiring negative RT-PCR test results prior to arrival in Negros
As of Monday, Negros Occidental had 171 active COVID-19 cases, 109 of whom were LSIs, 14 APORs, and 3 OFWs, while the rest were domestic cases, Diaz said.*