BY CARLA P. GOMEZ
Returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) will be required to stay in government quarantine facilities on their arrival in Negros Occidental.
That was the consensus reached by Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and the 31 mayors of Negros Occidental in a virtual meeting yesterday.
Lacson, in a letter to Office of Civil Defense Director Jose Roberto Nuñez, chair of the Regional Task Force on COVID-19, said he and the 31 mayors of Negros manifest their stand that ROFs must be tested and quarantined in the place of their final destination.
“Subjecting them to tests in Manila will be a waste of effort, time and valuable resources as we have proven through experience that those who tested negative in Manila may be infected in transit to the provinces and test positive afterwards,” Lacson said.
The governor suggested that the ROFs should be swabbed in Negros Occidental and quarantined at the local government unit level as part of the integration to the community.
He pointed out that Resolution No. 67 series of 2020 dated August 31 of the National Inter- Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases states that provinces are directed to observe strict enforcement of facility-based quarantine of all returning citizens, both suspect and probable cases.
Lacson said they are working hand in hand with the intent of eradicating COVID-19 to protect the community.
He pointed out that Negros Occidental had its first COVID-19 cases on March 27, who were overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and locally stranded individuals (LSIs).
As of August 26, Negros Occidental had a total of 1,162 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 45 percent of whom were LSIs, 35 percent came from domestic transmission and 15 percent from OFWs, the governor added in his letter.
“The mayors and I are opposed to the operational guideline on the management of ROFs, particularly Paragraph 7.5, that they shall no longer be subjected to Local Health Protocols by the receiving LGUs,” the governor said.
The Department of Health in Western Visayas said Wednesday that all ROFs, who have tested negative for COVID-19 and undergone the required quarantine, should not be subjected to another 14-day quarantine by the receiving LGUs.
The DOH said it was reiterating the guidelines issued by the National Inter-Agency Task Force Against COVID-19 dated August 19 on the management of ROFs.*