Cebu reopens to tourists from other provinces
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu province has decided to already allow the entry of non-Cebuano tourists but experts from Metro Manila have expressed their concern on the provincial government’s plan.
Dr. Guido David, a member of OCTA Research Group, said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo on Saturday, February 13, that the Capitol’s decision is worrisome considering that the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases here continue to rise.
Also, there is an ongoing bio-surveillance conducted by the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) to determine the existence of the more infectious UK variant of the virus here.
“Ang implikasyon nito yung timing niya medyo nakapagtaka. Ngayon hindi pa tayo nakapagsequence ng maraming cases sa Cebu… Concerning yan kasi kung kumakalat doon ang UK variant medyo ano problematic iyan. Di pa natin alam for sure kung kumakalat talaga kasi konti pa lang ‘yung na-sequence natin sa Cebu area,” David told TeleRadyo.
Since it was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) last July 15, 2020, the provincial government has allowed the resumption of its tourism activities but giving preference to Cebu residents.
The Capitol, through its media arm Sugbo News, announced last February 12 that the Provincial Tourism Task Force has already agreed to reopen its borders to domestic tourists coming from other provinces in the country.
The task force led by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia cited the latest Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of the Community Quarantine in the Philippines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) that allowed individuals in areas under MGCQ and General Community Quarantine (GCQ) to travel with minimum requirements.
“Interzonal movement of persons not authorized outside of residences or non-APOR (Authorized Person Outside Residence) between areas placed under GCQ and MGCQ for any purpose shall be permitted subject to reasonable regulations imposed by the LGU (local government unit) concerned, if any… So it could be to go visit some relatives here, for business, or more importantly, for tourism,” Garcia was quoted on saying.
Tourists bound for destinations in Cebu province are only required to present their pre-booked reservations issued by the resorts and hotels where they intend to stay or the confirmed registration by the Capitol’s booking portal for tourism activities.
The task force convened last Thursday, February 11.
David said that while they warn Cebu province-bound tourists of risks due to increasing COVID-19 cases here, it is not the intention of the OCTA Research Group to sow fear among potential visitors.
“Hindi naman tayo nananakot, may economic consideration sila pero yung timing. Normally, gusto natin na pupunta yung mga tao doon pababa sana yung trend ng cases,” he explained.
Data from DOH-7 show that Cebu province has recorded a total of 1,033 active COVID-19 cases as of February 13.
Earlier, DOH-7 also said that it submitted a total of 161 swab samples from confirmed COVID-19 patients here for genomic sequencing, the method used to determine if a virus from an infected individual is a mutated variant, at the Philippine Genome Center (PGC).
Of these, 60 samples that were already tested were found negative for the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2, which scientists have figured out to be on average, 56 percent more infectious than the original version.
RELATED STORY: DOH-7: No confirmed cases of UK variant in CV
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