Garcia’s request to IATF: Allow Cebu policies to apply to Cebu residents
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is appealing to the national Interagency Task Force (IATF) to allow the policies of Cebu for Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) to apply to Cebu residents only.
Garcia said that the situation in Cebu may be different to the rest of the country and the provincial government wants the Cebuanos to be able to save money from the expensive 10-day hotel quarantine requirement to that of a home quarantine.
Cebuanos who have homes in Cebu will follow the swab-upon-arrival policy, the home quarantine, and swab upon the 7th day.
“Let this be a compromise that the provincial ordinance will only apply to Cebuanos. For those who will take the Cebu route, who are non-Cebuanos and need to go home, we will gladly accommodate them in our hotels,” said Garcia in her heated speech during the special session of the Provincial Board on June 29, 2021.
She said that those who will use Cebu as an entry point to the country but are not residents of Cebu, will go through the 10-day quarantine at the hotels.
Having residents quarantine at home also allows Cebu to accomodate more ROFs and even Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) at the hotels.
“Allow us to take this into our own hands. We cannot govern with assumptions, with models,” said Garcia.
The IATF brought experts from the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss about the new variant that has affected at least 85 countries all over the world.
Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvaña of the DOH Technical Advisory Group said the Delta variant of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a major concern that should be considered in the protocols in airports. He said the transmission is high during transit.
He notes that the 17 recorded cases of the Delta variant in the country were controlled due to the strict quarantine of 10 days in accredited hotels.
Of the 17 recorded cases, one has died, 15 has recovered, and one remains an active case.
“It takes one instance, malusutan lang tayo ng isa, magsusurge ito ng todo-todo especially na mababa pa ang vaccination natin,” said Salvaña.
Salvaña said that testing upon arrival is not sufficient and quarantine of 10 days reduces the risk of transmission to a negligeble percentage.
WHO expert, Doctor Rabindra Abeyansinghe, said that the Delta variant is stronger than the other variants of the COVID-19 with a higher transmissibility and lower incubation period.
Abeyansinghe said the Delta variant is a real threat to many countries as it affects even vaccinated populations although fewer deaths are reported in the vaccinated population.
“You are in a unique position now. We recognize the fast vaccination coverage. We need to make that the status quo. Therefore, it is imperative that we have uniform protocols to delay the entry of the Delta variant,” he said.
For the part of Cebu, the hotels, the business sector said there is a necessity for Cebu to have its own policy that will fit its goal for economic revival.
Edmund Liu, the chairperson of Project Balik Buhay (PBB), said that the business sector has helped the local government units to provide more beds for isolations while the hospitals were able to raise more capacity for COVID-19 patients.
Seventh District Board Member Christopher Baricuatro pointed out that while the Cebu residents are at home quarantine, they are well guarded by Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs), their family members, and active community members.
This is far from the unguarded hotel quarantine center where isolated individuals can still interact with workers in the hotels and sometimes gather with fellow isolated individuals in their rooms.
The governor hopes that the IATF would allow Cebu to practice its authority over its residents as the provincial government sees this best for its direction towards economic revival. /rcg
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