Guvs call for RT-PCR Testing of LSIs before going home to Region 8
TACLOBAN CITY, June 22 (PIA) — All Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) should undergo RT-PCR/COVID-19 confirmatory test before going home to Eastern Visayas.
This was among the suggestions given by the provincial LCEs in a virtual meeting among the Eastern Visayas governors and the Region 8 IATF on COVID-19 on June 18, hosted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government 8 (DILG-8).
The governors, who shared their insights and suggestions to strengthen government efforts against COVID 19 in the region, noted that LSIs constitute the bulk of confirmed COVID positive in the region as only health certificate and travel authority are needed for them to be able to come home.
The Department of Health Region 8 recorded that the LSIs constitute the biggest number of confirmed COVID positive cases in the region, followed by the returning OFWs and the beneficiaries of the Balik Probinsiya program.
Joining the meeting were Gov. Rogelio Espina of Biliran, Gov. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla of Leyte, Gov. Edwin Marino Ongchuan of Northern Samar and Gov. Reynolds Michael Tan of Samar. Gov. Damian Mercado of Southern Leyte had to chair a PIATF meeting being held simultaneously and was represented by Provincial Administrator Jason Calva.
A corollary suggestion was that considering the testing capacity of health facilities, the LSIs should be swabbed at the health facility of origin. The swab samples may be sent to Region 8 via EVRMC for processing of the result.
One more suggestion was for the temporary suspension of the repatriation of LSIs, returning Overseas Filipinos and the Balik Probinsiya Program (already suspended).
The governors also suggested for the National Government to establish/assign Quarantine Area per province for LSIs where the PCR Test will be conducted first. This was forwarded to the National IATF for its comment and action.
The governors also requested for DepEd to allow Local Government Units in Eastern Visayas to utilize school buildings as isolation facilities, beyond June 30, 2020.
It was pointed out that the holding area of Allen Port is already full of stranded LSIs. Thus, the governors suggested to use the Regional Hub in Allen as holding area for LSIs.
Also raised was the issue of fake Travel Authorities issued by several Local Government Units in Luzon. It was underscored that Travel Authorities are issued by the PNP either in the regional, provincial or municipal level as the case maybe. The LGU or its staff may not issue the same. The travel authority is computerized and not handwritten as the Fake Travel Authorities showed.
There was also this request for RIATF in Region 5 to implement stricter security protocols at Matnog, Sorsogon Port since there are LSIs arriving at Allen with fake or no travel authority at all.
There is a large number of uncoordinated and undocumented LSIs making receiving LGUs unprepared for their arrivals.
The governors suggested that there should be a time phasing of every two weeks or 15 days on the arrivals of LSIs so that the current occupants of isolation facilities can finish first their 14-day quarantine. This will give time for the isolation facility to be vacated and disinfected.
Moreover, specific quarantine area in the receiving LGUs must already be identified and informed the LSIs prior to their departure at their area of origin. It was noted that most of the LSIs do not know where to go upon arrival.
There must also be transparent protocols and systematic handling of LSIs and for the provincial governments to timely arrange the transport of LSIs going to their home province. Only those LSIs with negative PCR Test result will be allowed to return to or be transported home. (PIA-8)