BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Four consultants of a Negros-based bio-energy power company, who came from South Africa, have been placed under isolation and are scheduled to be re-swabbed December 1, Provincial Inter Agency Task Force action officer Rayfrando Diaz yesterday said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has suspended flights from seven European countries during the weekend, in addition to an earlier ban on arrivals from several African nations, where heavily mutated COVID-19 Omicron variant, was first detected in South Africa in the middle of November.
Diaz said the four South African travelers arrived in Negros Occidental on November 26, before the banning was implemented.
While they are fully vaccinated and tested negative for COVID-19, Diaz said they were placed under isolation in Manapla, Calatrava, La Carlota City and Pontevedra, where they are currently based.
They were also refused accommodation in a hotel in Bacolod City, based on the advice of the City Health Office, he added.
Diaz also clarified that the four South Africans managed to enter the country with approval from the Bureau of Quarantine, who also registered in their respective S-PaSS that they came from Makati, Metro Manila, before going to Negros Occidental.
“It is not our job to screen international travelers,” he stressed.
When travelers enter airports in Manila, it is the BoQ who handles everything. Once cleared by BoQ, we have no reason to deny of their entry to the province, Diaz further stressed.
So, there is nothing to be blamed on the province, or the concerned local government units, he added.
Three of the four travelers are scheduled to be re-swabbed today, while the other one was already swabbed yesterday, Diaz said.
Maricel Alaban, CSR manager of BioPower, informed Diaz that the company consultants arrived in the Philippines on November 25, when South Africa was still under Green travel restrictions.
Alaban said that it was only during the weekend that the news of new COVID-19 variant came out, which prompted them to coordinate with concerned LGUs, who issued an advisory that they should undergo a 14-day quarantine.
When they arranged for their transfer to a hotel in Bacolod City, Alaban further informed Diaz that their request was denied, due to an advisory issued by the City Health Office.*