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Keep border controls, NCR bubble – OCTA
“During the surge, 50 percent of cases came from NCR. Now, it’s just 16 percent,” he said. “We don’t have objections (to easing restrictions) at this time because we’r
Michael Varcas, file

Keep border controls, NCR bubble – OCTA

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - June 12, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Amid discussions of easing restrictions in the National Capital Region Plus, the OCTA Research Group stressed the importance of maintaining border controls to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 cases coming from high-risk areas outside the NCR.

Speaking with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News/TV5, OCTA fellow Guido David said easing of restrictions is a fair discussion at this point, considering the improved situation in Metro Manila.

“During the surge, 50 percent of cases came from NCR. Now, it’s just 16 percent,” he said. “We don’t have objections (to easing restrictions) at this time because we’re seeing a decrease in trend and NCR is at moderate risk. There will always be risks when we ease restrictions, but we have to take those risks at some point.”

However, David gave this reminder to government: “We should still keep an eye out on our border controls. We should discuss what would be the acceptable border policies, especially for regions that are under high risk classification.”

“We have to take care of our borders because we do not want to have a costly surge again,” he added, noting that there is already “light at the end of the tunnel,” considering the impending arrival of more vaccines.

In its latest report, OCTA identified eight areas of concern, all located outside the NCR Plus bubble – Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo City, Dumaguete, Butuan, Tuguegarao, Cotabato City and Tacloban.

Davao City, which David previously tagged as a possible epicenter along with Western Visayas and NCR, is not included in the list after the number of new cases went down in the past week.

While its average daily attack rate is considered as high risk at 10.14 infections per 100,000 population, the city’s hospital bed and intensive care unit utilization rates remain below the critical threshold.

?‘Swab-on-arrival’ pushed

?Yesterday, more senators pushed for the implementation of a “swab-upon-arrival” policy at the country’s airports to afford returning Filipinos, especially overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), reasonable quarantine protocols.

Under existing guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) need to undergo a minimum of 10 days in isolation at a quarantine facility then spend four more days of quarantine at home.

“Our hardworking OFWs and ROFs are often only given a short period of time by their employers to come home to visit their families. We do not want that period to be spent on quarantine alone,” Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said.

“This requirement is excessive,” he added, as he called on the IATF to instead consider “swab-upon-arrival” as a basis for inbound Filipinos’ quarantine requirement.

Pimentel said authorities should give value to the scientific results of RT-PCR tests, the so-called gold standard in testing for COVID-19.

He said returning Filipinos can be tested upon arrival to see if they are infected and if results are negative, then they should be immediately released to finish the 14-day quarantine in their homes.

Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Sonny Angara, Bong Revilla and Joel Villanueva strongly backed the same policy, which was originally a directive for implementation by Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia.

Sen. Francis Tolentino expressed support for Garcia’s move, although a deviation from the national directive, and said the IATF should ease the burden of arriving passengers at the Mactan International Airport. – Paolo Romero

OCTA
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