Strict measures enforced in Negros Occidental with lifting of travel ban
BACOLOD CITY –– Now that the travel ban to Western Visayas ended last Monday, the Negros Occidental provincial government is sending vehicles to pick up arriving passengers at its seaports and airports.
Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said they would transport incoming passengers to their respective localities to ensure they would not go elsewhere.
“The province needs to monitor persons entering its localities to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” he said.
Diaz appealed to incoming passengers to voluntarily agree to a swab test and undergo quarantine until their negative test results are out.
“This has to be done to prevent the spread of the virus and more deaths. Do this for your safety and for your families too,” he said.
Incoming passengers, Diaz said, must also coordinate with their respective destinations and secure an approved S-PaSS and StaySafe account for contact tracing since they include information such as the name of the traveler, the vehicle seat, or their assigned hotel room, and final destination.
Those who failed to present an S-PaSS and StaySafe account must undergo a COVID-19 swab test and quarantine upon arrival.
They also have to present a negative swab test result within 72 hours before their departure for Negros Occidental.
About 250 passengers from Manila and Cebu arrived in Negros Occidental Tuesday, according to Zeaphard Caelian, head of the Provincial Incident Management Team.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) earlier granted the request of Western Visayas officials to suspend inbound travel to the region from April 4 to 10 to slow down the virus spread.
It was extended from April 13 to 19.
Diaz pointed out that the surge in COVID-19 cases in the province began when the IATF prohibited the provincial government from conducting mandatory swab tests on incoming passengers.
The increase in cases resulted in the congestion of hospitals and quarantine facilities in the province.
The Department of Health on Monday tagged Negros Occidental as a high-risk area for COVID-19.
Diaz said travel bans that create stress on residents who want to return home are not necessary.
“What is needed is a steady but calibrated return of passengers. We want to create a safe bubble in Negros Occidental where the movement of residents will be free,” he said.
“Our situation will improve if we are allowed to do mandatory testing and quarantine (of passengers) upon entry,” he added.
Negros Occidental, he said, has allocated funds to continue the testing of incoming passengers.
“The province has 80,000 test kits and is procuring 30,000 more,” Diaz said. “Testing for COVID-19 is the next best thing with the lack of COVID -19 vaccines. We need to identify, isolate, and cure,” he added.
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