Locals, not tourism, drove surge in COVID-19 cases, says Puyat
MANILA, Philippines — The surge in coronavirus disease cases in the country is not because of the re-opening of the tourism sector, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
In an interview with INQUIRER.net’s INQside Look, Puyat said when there is an increase in COVID-19 cases in tourism sites in the country, she immediately contacts local government unit (LGU) heads who assure her that the cases were not due to tourists coming in, but rather the locals.
“Proud to say, since we re-opened, I have to say na kasi when you reopen talaga, you really work closely with the LGU and the private sector. Tulong-tulungan kayo. And because siguro tulong-tulungan ang national government, LGU, at private sector, walang outbreak because of tourism,” Puyat said.
(When we re-opened, we really work closely with the LGU and the private sector. We help each other. And because we really help each other in the national government, LGU, at private sector, there has been no outbreak that may be attributed to tourism.)
“It’s the locals, it’s not tourism. I look at all the cases, like for example in Baguio, tumataas ang cases nakikita ko (I see that the cases are rising). I always call up Mayor Magalong and then he says ‘no, no, no, it’s not because of tourism, it’s because of other factors.’ Not related to tourism but the locals that are there,” she added.
Questions were raised regarding the possible role of the tourism sector in the surge of COVID-19 cases especially following reports of tourists faking their test results just to be able to travel. In some cases, tourists who faked their test results turned out to be positive for COVID-19.
According to Puyat, it is up to the LGUs to impose their own travel protocols and restrictions.
“’Yung mga protocols rin, akala ng lahat, DOT rin ang nagde-decide ng protocols, it’s actually the LGU. Like yung test before travel, also LGU,” Puyat said.
(Many think it’s the DOT that decides on the protocols, but it’s actually the LGU. Like the rules on testing requirements before the travel, that’s on the LGU.)
“Syempre kasi we respect the LGU kasi kanila yun e kasi kung magkaka-outbreak, that’s on them, sila ang mag-implement ng localized lockdown,” she added.
(We respect the LGU because should there be an outbreak, they will be the ones implementing localized lockdowns.)
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