BACOLOD CITY – Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson has asked two officials of the National Task Force (NTF) on Covid-19 and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow the provincial government to implement the mandatory swab test and quarantine upon arrival.
On Thursday, Lacson sent similar letters of appeal to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of NTF and vaccine czar of IATF-EID, and Secretary Vivencio Dizon, deputy chief implementer of NTF, and testing czar of IATF-EID, requesting them to reconsider the observations and recommendations of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Western Visayas relative to Executive Order 21-18-A, Series of 2021 that he issued on March 30.
“All travelers entering the airports and seaports of Negros Occidental shall undergo a mandatory swabbing and Covid-19 RT-PCR testing regardless of destination, and will be quarantined until their negative test results are released by Department of Health accredited molecular laboratories,” a portion of EO 21-18-A stated, citing the recent spike in positive cases in the province as the reason.
These requirements were supposed to take effect on April 1.
The directive revised Lacson’s EO 21-18, which adopts the salient points of the uniform travel protocols under IATF-EID Resolution 101, no longer requiring swab test and quarantine upon arrival since returning residents and other inbound travelers are already required to produce a negative RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test result from their place of origin.
After reviewing EO 21-18-A, DILG-6 regional director Juan Jovan Ingeniero said in a letter addressed to Lacson on March 31 that “(w)hile we see that your intentions are noble, it is not within the intent of the national government as reflected in IATF-EID Resolution 101”.
In his letters to Galvez and Dizon, Lacson said that while the province intends to fully implement the uniform travel protocols mandated in Resolution 101, there is an unexpected increase of positivity rate recorded by the Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital (TLJPH) Molecular Laboratory and a rapid surge of Covid-19 confirmed cases in the province.
“(These) have rendered the Province of Negros Occidental defenseless from the onslaught of Covid-19 cases coming from other parts of the country,” he added.
Lacson cited that on Thursday alone, the TLJPH Molecular Laboratory has recorded additional 53 confirmed cases.
“As governor, I believe that this (mandatory swab test and quarantine) is imperative in order to protect our constituents, our local economy, and our future as a province. I would like to prevent the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 within the province that is clearly brought by locally-stranded individuals, authorized persons outside residence, and returning overseas Filipinos,” he added. (PNA)