BACOLOD CITY–Governors and mayors of highly urbanized cities in Western Visayas have requested the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for a 7-day extension on the moratorium on inbound-travel into the region citing the “imminent threat of staggering numbers of new cases and highly-contagious variants circulating at the NCR plus bubble and elsewhere”.
The letter of request penned by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and addressed to Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., National Task Force against COVID-19 Chief Implementer, and carbon copied (cc) to WVIATF chair Juan Jovian Ingeniero and RTF-COVID-19 chair Jose Roberto Nuñez also asks for an additional allocation of COVID-19 vaccines and the reclassification of local chief executives (LCEs) and members of the WV-IATF as “essential workers” in order for them to get priority vaccination.
The previously granted one-week travel moratorium ends on April 10.
The LCEs had agreed to send the letter during a Zoom meeting with medical experts earlier today, April 8.
The letter in part states, “To prevent us from mimicking what is happening in the severely hit areas…we came to the conclusion that a region-wide moratorium on inbound travel is necessary to promote the health and safety of our constituents.”
Specifically, the Region VI LCEs would like a temporary suspension for a period of seven days from April 11 to 17 of all incoming flights, sea voyage, and land travel from Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Laguna, and Cavite—collectively called NCR Plus bubble—Cebu, and Davao transporting returning residents and Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APORs).
In addition, Treñas, speaking on behalf of the other officials, said that while they empathize with those wanting or needing to travel into the region, they have learned to “make difficult choices for the greater good”.
SURPASS LAST YEAR’S PEAK
For his part, Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said, “The request is imperative especially here in Negros Occidental, where last year’s peak of active cases might soon be surpassed due to the recent surge.”
He added that Negros Occidental reached its “historical highest peak” of 1,683 cases on September 28, 2020.
As of April 7, 2021, the province has 635 active cases, 7,000 recoveries, and 230 deaths. Cumulatively, 7,865 cases have been recorded from March last year, data from the Provincial Incident Management Team showed.
As part of the provincial government’s effort to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases, Lacson issued today April 8 Executive Order 21-21, implementing stringent measures on mass gatherings.
Among the salient points of the EO is the 30 percent limitation on venue of gatherings.
It also said that participants of gatherings should strictly observe minimum public health standards and that establishments of these gatherings should comply with ventilation standards set by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
The EO also authorizes local government units to impose localized and targeted lockdowns in their jurisdictions.
The EO takes effect immediately.
On Wednesday, Mayor Richard Jaojoco placed at least 700 households in Brgy. Bug-ang, Toboso, on lockdown after nine out of the 56 residents who underwent swab tests turned out positive for COVID-19.
In nearby San Carlos City, Mayor Renato Gustilo restricted the movements of 24 households in Brgy. Guadalupe as the virus had infected some 16 church choir members and lay leaders.
Meanwhile, in Cadiz City, a similar lockdown was ordered by Mayor Salvador Escalante Jr. Purok Mainuswagon, Barangay Zone 2 to allow the unimpeded swab testing of residents there. (Eugene Y. Adiong/iNEWS-Bacolod/Negros Bureau with additional reporting by N. Glenn Aragon)