Zamboanga City imposes border control as COVID-19 cases rise
ZAMBOANGA CITY—The city government here has reimposed restrictions on entry into the city by travelers after coronavirus cases increased by almost six times the count recorded in March.
Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar took back an earlier order relaxing the requirement for swab testing of authorized persons outside residence (Apor), saying everyone must now present a negative result of a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test done within 48 hours before they can be allowed here.
Zamboanga City is the latest local government to reimpose stringent border controls, with most towns, cities and provinces in the country now adopting strict measures to protect their localities from virus spikes within and outside their areas.
As of April 7, the City Health Office (CHO) has counted 248 active cases, up by 570 percent from the March 31 tally of only 37.
The CHO said that of the active cases, 181 were attributed to community-level transmission of the virus, 33 from the San Ramon penal facility of the Bureau of Correction, 31 Apor, two returning residents, and a detainee in a local jail.
City health officer Dulce Miravite said the penal facility, located some 24 kilometers from the city proper, was placed on lockdown for a month since after the outbreak was recorded on the last week of March.
Salazar also ordered heightened watch by security forces on its coastal borders after 21 individuals on board a pump boat from nearby Tungawan town of Zamboanga Sibugay province were intercepted by soldiers on Thursday trying to enter the city without the required RT-PCR test.
In Davao Region, health officials blamed frequent gatherings that draw large crowds for the spike in COVID-19 cases in Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro provinces.
As of April 7, Davao del Norte posted 300 active COVID-19 cases, even surpassing the 270 cases posted by Davao City, which consistently posted the highest number of COVID-19 infections in the region, the regional Department of Health (DOH) reported.
Davao de Oro, which was at 43 cases in November last year, recorded 96 cases in the last week of January, 84 cases in the middle of March to 103 as of April 7 this year.
“We reviewed the reports (and found out) that most of the transmissions in those areas were caused by gatherings,” said Dr. Raquel Montejo, chief of the COVID-19 vaccination program of DOH in the region. —JULIE S. ALIPALA, CARMELITO FRANCISCO AND GERMELINA LACORTE
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