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Prov’l gov’t bats for free RT-PCR, RAT tests on inbound travelers

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Instead of requiring negative antigen test results from inbound travelers from Metro Manila in lieu of RT-PCR tests, Provincial Inter Agency Task Force action officer Rayfrando Diaz pushed for the “swab for free” upon arrival at the Bacolod-Silay Airport, as he expects newCOVID-19 alert levels to be announced by Malacañang before January 31.

After setting aside the RT-PCR test requirements for Bacolod City inbound travelers coming from any local government units in Western Visayas and Negros Oriental, Mayor Evelio Leonardia pushed for negative antigen testing results in lieu of RT-PCR test, for arriving Bacolod travelers from Manila, noting that molecular laboratories cannot guarantee results in time for their flight schedules, among others.

“If you undergo a rapid test in Metro Manila, who will declare that it is real, since there is no official document that attests to the result,” Diaz asked.

At present, inbound travelers from Alert Level 3 areas are being required by the provincial government to secure a negative RT-PCR test result 72 hours prior to travel, before approval of their S-PaSS.

Leonardia also raised the fact that an RT-PCR test costs travelers additional money with each procedure ranging from P3,300 to as much as P5,000 per test, while RAT is only about P800 with result already available within 30 minutes to one hour at most.

Instead of setting aside the RT-PCR requirement, Diaz said that the swab upon arrival at the Bacolod-Silay Airport can be done and the city government could provide a counterpart fund of the cost for Bacolodnon passengers, as what other Negros Occidental LGUs did in the past.

He recalled that many Bacolodnons availed of free RT-PCR and antigen testing early this month, upon arrival at the Bacolod-Silay airport, after surge of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila.

We’re almost at the end of the month, I hope by February the travel restrictions will be eased, Diaz said, noting a downward trend on COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila.

If the situation is okay by February, especially in the National Capital Region, we might relax already, he said, adding that proposals to increase two trips for an airline company every maybe be discussed.

Negros Island remains under Alert Level 3 until January 31.*

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