Iloilo City – Starting July 24, 2021, the Iloilo City government will require travelers from the National Capital Region (NCR) and Cebu to undergo testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) prior to their travel.
In a statement posted to the city government’s Facebook page on Tuesday, Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR), as well as returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and residents will have to test via Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) within 72 hours before travelling to the city.
Treñas told Bombo Radyo Iloilo that travelers coming into the region have consistently tested positive for COVID-19.
The mayor also attributed the testing requirements to active cases of the Delta variant in the NCR and other places in the country as reported by the Department of Health (DOH).
DOH spokesperson Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire on Tuesday confirmed 8 active Delta variant cases in the country, from Manila (1), Cagayan De Oro City (4), Misamis Oriental (1), and of returning overseas Filipinos (2).
Treñas added that travelers may use the city’s quarantine facilities or they may also book a room at an accredited quarantine hotel at their own expense.
For OFWs, the mayor said he had already spoken to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration-Region 6 (OWWA-6) OIC-Regional Director Rizza Moldes regarding the testing requirements.
The City Health Office (CHO) had also met with officials of hospitals in the city in preparation for a possible surge brought about by the Delta variant.
“There have been many arriving, either APOR, resident, or OFW, who are testing positive, and we are ready to open our quarantine facilities for them while they are waiting for their negative RT-PCR test results. We will be very strict because according to DOH reports, there are active Delta variants in Manila and other places,” Treñas said in the radio interview.
The mayor said he will also request the CHO to coordinate with the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) in the gatekeeping obligations and responsibilities in Cebu and NCR.
According to DOH’s COVID-19 Tracker as of July 19, the NCR gained 7,991 new COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days alone, while Cebu City reported 1,154 new cases and Cebu province logged 878 new cases in the same period.
“It’s very disappointing to know that from Cebu and NCR, people coming here are testing positive [for COVID-19], meaning to say that there is something wrong with the gatekeeping obligations of the DOH in NCR and Cebu. They need to strengthen that, because if there are active [Delta] cases in Manila, they also have to have good gatekeeping activities there, so that we can be sure that people test negative when arriving here,” Treñas said.
He also said that the city government would be preparing new quarantine facilities exclusively for persons who contracted the Delta variant, while lamenting the lead time to determine the presence of such a variant.
The first local cases of the variant were confirmed only on July 15, of a married couple from Pandan Antique, whose specimens were sent to the Philippine Genome Center in Quezon City on June 11.
Treñas also emphasized the continuing contact tracing and testing for the virus, citing the majority of cases being asymptomatic and of local transmission.
“The only thing that we can do now is really to continue what we have been doing. One important thing is that during this ECQ, the city government should prepare more quarantine facilities so we can be prepared. We can have oxygen, staff, and complete PPEs so that when the time comes, we can contain them in quarantine facilities. It is incumbent for all LGUs to continue contact tracing,” the mayor said.
(Joseph Marzan via The Daily Guardian (TDG), photo courtesy of TDG)