LEGAZPI CITY – Stricter border patrol measures will be imposed at the Bicol-Quezon borders to prevent the entry of non-essential travelers from Metro Manila and other coronavirus diseases (Covid-19) hotspot areas, the Bicol Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) said on Monday.
Lawyer Anthony Nuyda, regional director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Bicol and BIATF chairperson, said they would pass a resolution banning colorum passenger vans and private vehicles that have no essential travel purpose from the National Capital Region (NCR), the epicenter of the Covid-19 crisis.
Nuyda, in a phone interview, said they validated an earlier report that 12 colorum vehicles carrying 79 passengers were held at a patrol checkpoint at the Bicol-Quezon border in Del Gallego town.
“At least nine passengers have tested positive with the disease while the rest either presented an authentic while some have questionable negative Covid-19 test result,” he said.
Nuyda expressed surprise why authorities in Manila allowed these vans to travel considering that NCR and other hotspot areas in Luzon are currently under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
He said the unabated entry of returning residents from Manila especially those who tested positive for Covid-19 could result in an upsurge of cases in Bicol.
Nuyda said a meeting is set on Tuesday with the six Bicol governors to firm up the new local guidelines and make sure that these would still be in line with those of the IATF-EID.
Meanwhile, the resolution would mandate deployment of more police and military forces as well as Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to man the checkpoints in all of Bicol’s borders, seaports, airports, and terminals.
Only vehicles bringing in essential commodities and passengers with valid travel purposes such as work and health-related concerns would be allowed.
Nuyda said the measure has to be carried out to prevent further spread of Covid-19 in Bicol after the Department of Health (DOH) in the region logged a slight surge in cases during the Lenten break. There were 62 new cases reported in the region on Black Saturday.
Latest DOH-Bicol data on April 5 showed there is a total of 638 active Covid-19 cases in the six provinces. (PNA)