BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Negros Occidental is now experiencing a second wave of local Covid-19 transmissions, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday.
This as the Provincial Incident Management Team of Negros Occidental reported 317 new cases yesterday, based on test results from the Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital molecular laboratory in Silay City.
Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said this is, so far, the highest in one day record of Covid-19 positive cases in the province since the pandemic started last year.
Kabankalan City has the most number of new infections with 55, followed by Cadiz City – 52, and Murcia – 44.
Diaz also said that Negros Occidental Board Member Manuel Frederick Ko tested positive for Covid, aside from Murcia Mayor Gerry Rojas, two town councilors, a barangay captain, and 35 others in the town alone.
Toboso Mayor Richard Jaojoco also said nine policemen assigned in the town also tested positive for Covid-19.
Lacson admitted that it is very hard to manage the local transmissions of the coronavirus disease. But what is important, he added, is that local government units are vigilant as far as contact tracing is concerned.
Lacson issued an executive order limiting mass gatherings up to 30 percent of the seating or venue capacity, as recommended by the Provincial Incident Management Team.
He added that lockdowns shall be limited only to specific areas in concerned LGUs, and shall not include national roads.
Lacson said local chief executives have the discretion to declare localized or targeted lockdowns in their areas of jurisdictions.
But he clarified that provisions in the EOs he had issued may be subject to amendments, pursuant to issuances of the National Inter-Agency Task Force, or as justified by compelling circumstances.
Lacson also encouraged LCEs to temporarily order the closure of leisure areas, until the cases of Covid-19 have gone down.
“While it will affect local tourism, I think we have to do it,” he said.
Negros Occidental recorded 1,683 cases at the height of the Covid-19 infection. “Right now, we have about 40 percent of the cases in 2020,” he said.
Lacson also suggested that infected individuals, who are asymptomatic and experiencing mild symptoms, should be placed in quarantine facilities, and not in hospitals, so that more serious cases could be accommodated there.
In response to frustrations aired by local officials over the implementation of IATF Resolution 101 that states that mandatory swab testing should no longer be imposed by concerned LGUs on inbound travelers upon arrival, Lacson encouraged travelers to signify their intention to avail of swabbing upon entry to the province while registering in the S-PASS travel management app.
“You don’t have to produce negative RT-PCR test results as long as you signify your willingness to be swabbed. But if you want to be swabbed before travel, that’s fine, too,” Lacson said, adding that this is only good for 72 hours. The Covid-19 swab testing, either at the airports or seaports of Negros Occidental, is free for inbound travelers.*