BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Swabbing upon arrival in airport and seaports of Negros Occidental remains voluntary for inbound travelers, pending a response from the National Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases of his request that it has to be mandatory due to rising cases of Covid in the province, Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday.
Lacson said he has yet to receive a reply from AITF-EID, as of this time. In his letter to the AITF, Lacson asked them to agree to his request to swab inbound travelers upon arrival, which, according to Juan Jovian Ingeniero, regional director of the Department of Interior and Local Government 6, did not conform with the uniform health protocols of the national government.
For now, Lacson said that they will not require mandatory testing and quarantine of travelers upon arrival to the province.
As of April 4, Negros Occidental had 474 Covid-19 cases, from its lowest of 58 in February this year. San Carlos City has the most number of cases with 119.
“Right now, it’s really a cause of concern. And I think it’s really domestic transmission already. We might again experience what we did last year. It will take time again before we can bring it down,” Lacson said.
However, there are still local government units with zero active cases, including Candoni, Hinobaan, La Castellana, Manapla, Salvador Benedicto, and Moises Padilla, records of the Provincial Incident Management Team showed.
Lacson strongly encouraged Negrenses to use double masks when going out of their homes, and to wear a mask even in their residences. He also discouraged large gathering of families.
As to the reduction of workforce by 30 percent at the provincial Capitol because of a spike in Covid-19 cases, Lacson said they will study it, and that he is also leaving the decision to local government units if they will do implement the same.
“But for now, it will be a full force at the Capitol,” he said.
In response to proposals of Senator Bong Go and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino of getting voluntary health workers from the Visayas to reinforce health personnel in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces, Lacson said he is encouraging those without jobs and qualified. “But not those who are already employed in government hospitals in Negros Occidental,” he stressed.*