BY CARLA P. GOMEZ
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday that the request of Negros Occidental and Bacolod City for a four-day lockdown to conduct COVID-19 mass testing has been forwarded to the National Inter-Agency Task Force for approval.
Lacson said the request for permission for a “timeout weekend” from August 28 to 31 was made before the regional IATF yesterday and they were informed that it would be forwarded to the NIATF.
He is hoping for an NIATF reply by Wednesday, the governor said.
Negros Occidental had 19 new COVID-19 positive cases and one death, while Bacolod City had 20 additional confirmed cases, the Department of Health reported yesterday.
That brings the COVID-19 cases in Negros Occidental to 966 and in Bacolod City to 749, or a total of 1,713. The total COVID-19 cases in Western Visayas was 3,554 as of yesterday, the DOH added.
The four-day “timeout weekend” will see the lockdown of four cities and one town in Negros Occidental for mass COVID-19 testing so that those found positive can be isolated, provincial economic adviser, former Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez, said Saturday.
About 5,000 Bacolod City residents will be tested for COVID-19 in the first two days, and 5,000 in Silay, Talisay and Bago cities and Murcia town on the last two days of the “timeout weekend”, he said.
Negros Occidental Board Member Ryan Gamboa said that in case the lockdown is not granted, they agreed that they will still go ahead with the mass testing.
He also said that all five mayors agreed to the timeout weekend and are waiting for the NIATF approval before finalizing the details.
A meeting was held with representatives of Bacolod and Negros Occidental to discuss the schedule for mass swabbing and identifying candidates for testing, based on DOH protocols, Gamboa added.*