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Cross-border travel ban a ‘knee-jerk reaction’

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - April 7, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas is not keen on recommending the imposition of travel restrictions on individuals from high-risk and critical areas due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

DOH-7 spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, in a virtual presser, said barring domestic travelers from areas with high coronavirus cases is a “knee-jerk reaction.”

“Pati tayo banned sa Western Visayas until April 10. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. Instead of banning them, let us put in the necessary measures,” she said.

Measures include screening, testing, and isolation.

“When everything is put in place, it is easier for us to be able to allow the opening of borders, allowing people to come in so the economy can thrive and yet ensure that we are protecting our place from the possibility of individuals bringing in these viruses, “ said Loreche.

Loreche’s comment came after local governments in Western Visayas (Region 6) barred travelers from the National Capital Region, the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna, and the cities of Davao and Cebu from entering the region.

The suspension of flights and trips was from April 4 until April 10.

Western Visayas is composed of the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental. It has recorded 27,941 cases, including 109 new cases on April 3.

Moreover, Loreche lauded the Cebu City government for keeping the requirements, including negative swat test results, for inbound travelers.

The cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue are also willing to do the same.

Meanwhile, DOH and other concerned departments are still contemplating on also offering free testing to domestic travelers upon arrival especially those from areas with high cases of COVID-19.

At the moment, only returning Filipinos including Overseas Filipino Workers are given free testing upon arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

If found to be negative, they are free to proceed to their respective places of destination, pending the protocols set by the local government unit.

There will no longer be testing on the fifth day from arrival to cut on cost on the part of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and to lessen the burden and stress of the returning Filipinos as well.

So far, out of over a thousand ROFs/OFWs, there were 15 individuals who were tested positive for COVID-19. — KQD (FREEMAN)

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