BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
A travel moratorium from Manila to Negros Occidental and other key areas of the country, where numbers of Covid-19 cases are increasing, is now a possibility for the provincial government.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday that they will request for a moratorium on travel from certain areas of the country to Negros Occidental, if the quarantine facilities are full of occupants, and unmanageable, just like what had happened last year.
The surge of Covid-19 cases all over the country, recorded at about 5,000 daily since last week, alarmed health experts and authorities, and some areas in Metro Manila have been placed on granular lockdown, with uniform curfew hours now being imposed.
Last year, the provincial government of Negros Occidental and almost all local government units had requested travel moratorium on the arrival of Locally Stranded Individuals, especially from Manila and Cebu, since their quarantine facilities were already full of occupants, and requiring disinfection.
Lacson also noted that active cases of Covid-19 in Negros Occidental rose from 58 in previous months to 193 as of March 17, which he said attributed mostly to travelers coming from Manila and Cebu.
Inbound travelers to Negros Occidental are now being required to have negative RT-PCR test results, taken 72 hours prior to their arrival, registration with the S-Pass and StaySafe apps, but not residents of Western Visayas who will travel in the region.
Governors and two mayors of highly urbanized cities of Western Visayas are slated to have a zoom meeting today with the Regional Inter Agency Task Force, to discuss the surge of Covid-19 cases in their respective areas.
Western Visayas officials also want to require the APORs (Authorized Persons Outside Residence) also to present negative RT-PCR test results, as they noted that they have always been a privileged group, compared to other travelers.
APORs are only being required to present travel orders and identification cards, when they travel.
Lacson said he expects the vaccination of health workers in the different government and private hospitals completed by the end of March, as far as the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines were available.
“We made sure that we keep the second doses, in order to convince our medical frontliners to take the vaccines,” he added.
At the same time, Lacson reminded local government units to prepare the list of indigent senior citizens, since they are being lined up for the next vaccination, anticipating the arrival of more vaccines by the end of March, or next month.
However, he clarified that vaccines being scheduled for dispatch to Negros Occidental, are not yet the 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines ordered by the provincial government, but what will be is provided by the national government.
Lacson said the purchase of AstraZeneca vaccines by the province will continue, despite some of the reported setbacks for those being vaccinated, stressing that the World Health Organization and the Department of Health have declared that it is still safe for use.
“If the national government is able to send more vaccines, I think the vaccination will be faster, because it will be the LGUs now, who will implement it,” Lacson said.*