Gov’t urged to review Hatid Probinsya screening | Inquirer News
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Gov’t urged to review Hatid Probinsya screening

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 04:48 AM June 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — An infectious disease specialist has urged the government to review its screening of people who want to avail of its return-to-the-province (Balik Probinsya) program after a separate, but similar initiative was tagged as the cause of a surge of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the Eastern Visayas region, making it the third most infected region in the country.

Dr. Rontgene Solante, former president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, pushed the review after local officials in Eastern Visayas complained that the government’s Balik Probinsya and Hatid Tulong initiatives ferried infected people to their areas.

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The Department of Health on Sunday reported 653 more COVID-19 infections, bringing to 30,052 the total number of cases in the country.

Out of the new confirmed cases, 415 were classified as “fresh” or those who tested positive within the last three days, while 238 were “late” cases or test results released four days ago or earlier but were validated just recently.

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Among the fresh cases, 219 are from Metro Manila, 89 from Central Visayas, while the remaining 107 are spread out across the country.

Among the late cases, 32 are from Metro Manila, 177 from Central Visayas, while 29 other patients came from various areas nationwide.

The health department also reported that 243 patients recovered from the respiratory illness, bringing to 7,893 the total recoveries, while fatalities reached 1,169 after the emergence of 19 new cases.

Eastern Visayas officials, who prided themselves in having no cases in the first two months of the Luzon-wide lockdown, blamed the Balik Probinsiya and Hatid Tulong programs for the current situation.

After the surge in cases, the Balik Probinsiya program was suspended for a month from June 11 after bringing 112 people to Leyte province while the Hatid Tulong initiative was slowed down on Friday after ferrying 53,000 people to their home provinces.

“It’s not too late yet to review the process of clearing someone for Balik Probinsiya,” said Solante, who made no remark on the merit of the program spearheaded by Sen. Bong Go and implemented via Executive Order 114.

“Probably, the safety measures are not that concrete or detailed,” he said, adding that the government should also consider requiring antigen tests for those who want to avail of the Balik Probinsya program.

“You can compare it to those travelers arriving in Manila, they undergo an automatic 14-day quarantine. It should be the same,” Solante said.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: Balik-Probinsya Program, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, Hatid Tulong, PSMID, Rontgene Solante
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