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Bicol closes border to nonessential travelers

/ 04:36 AM April 06, 2021

EASTER FUN DAY Children enjoy the morning sun as they celebrate Easter Sunday on the shoreline of the boulevard in Legazpi City, Albay province. Bicol officials want to protect the low number of cases in the region by closing its border to nonessential travelers. —MARK ALVIC ESPLANA

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) in Bicol will close the region’s border starting on Tuesday to nonessential travelers coming from Metro Manila and other COVID-19 hot spots.

Lawyer Anthony Nuyda, regional chief of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and IATF Bicol chair, said a stricter border patrol measure would be imposed in the Bicol-Quezon province boundaries to prevent the entry of vans and private vehicles carrying passengers who have nonessential travel purpose to the region.

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Nuyda confirmed earlier reports that 12 “colorum” vehicles, or private vans boarded by paying passengers, carrying 79 persons were held in a patrol checkpoint at the Bicol-Quezon boundary in Del Gallego town in Camarines Sur province during the Holy Week. At least nine of the passengers tested positive for COVID-19 while the rest either presented fake swab test results or questionable negative COVID-19 test results, he said.

Alarmed

Nuyda questioned why authorities in Manila have allowed these vans to travel considering that the National Capital Region and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna are under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until April 11.

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He expressed alarm that the unabated entry of local residents from Manila, especially those who tested positive for COVID-19, would lead to a spike of cases in Bicol.

Nuyda said the six Bicol governors would meet on Tuesday to firm up uniform guidelines on how to seal its borders to unauthorized entry.

Nuyda said Bicol officials hoped to halt a rise in cases in the region, which recorded a spike of infections over the Holy Week, from barely a hundred to 619 active cases as of Sunday.

—MAR ARGUELLES

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TAGS: Bicol travel restrictions, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines
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