Mayors reopen borders to Negros, Panay travel

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BY CARLA P. GOMEZ

Sea travel between Negros and Panay will resume today with the reopening of their borders yesterday.

Mayor Jerry Treñas ordered the closure of the borders of Iloilo City to travelers from Bacolod and Negros effective yesterday after Riverside Medical Center Inc. (RMCI) issued an advisory Monday that its isolation facility, which is specially designated for the admission and treatment of COVID-19 patients, had reached its full capacity.

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia, in response, ordered the closure of Bacolod’s borders to passengers coming from Iloilo City, Iloilo province and the whole of Panay, including Guimaras.

On Tuesday night, RMCI issued a second advisory clarifying that it has a low number of COVID-19 cases admitted in its facility.

Treñas told the DAILY STAR yesterday that, with the clarification made by RMCI to its advisory Monday that triggered his decision to close Iloilo City’s borders, he has ordered their reopening to enable sea travel between Negros and Panay to resume.

The Regional Inter Agency Task Force (RIATF) yesterday requested the Iloilo City and Bacolod City officials to reconsider their orders closing their borders, a joint statement from the Office of Civil Defense, Department of Health and the Department of the Interior and Local Government said.

Upon consideration of the RIATF request, Iloilo City hereby reconsiders its decision to ban the travel of passengers from Iloilo City to Bacolod and vice versa , Treñas said.

“We apologize to everyone for the inconvenience,” he said.

Leonardia also said they all agreed to reopen both borders effective immediately.

RMCI medical director, Dr. Antonia Gensoli, reiterated yesterday that the hospital’s isolation facility does not have a lot of patients.

On May 5, RMCI sent a letter to Leonardia informing him of their commitment to allocate 53 beds for COVID-19 patients on the 5th floor of the hospital and that they had increased the bed-capacity of their isolation unit from three to 12.

The patients admitted to the isolation unit of the hospital are the COVID-positive patients and those who manifest severe COVID-like symptoms as recommended by their infectious disease specialist, she said.

The RMCI Isolation Facility is occupied by 8 COVID-19 positive patients with mild symptoms and 3 are occupied by probable patients, the RMCI advisory Tuesday night said.

On July 20 we issued a hospital advisory declaring that our isolation facility had reached its full capacity because it only has 12 beds, Gensoli said.

The hospital adopted a criteria for declaring the isolation unit in full capacity, which are lack of PPEs, manpower or full bed capacity, she said.

They declared that the isolation unit, not their entire COVID-19 floor, had reached full capacity, Gensoli said.

It was declared because the unit had reached full bed capacity, not because of lack of PPEs and manpower, she added.

She said because of the reaction of the public to their Monday advisory and on the recommendation of the Bacolod mayor and the DOH regional director, they clarified it immediately, she said.

Gensoli also admitted that the hospital has six health care workers who are COVID-19 positive.*

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