BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Lacson is seeking permission from President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the province to allow the extension of its General Community Quarantine until 31 May, 2020.
Negros Occidental and Bacolod City have both been classified as low-risk areas by the national InterAgency Task Force and therefore have no need to be placed under community quarantine by 16 May.
However, the governor said that the lifting of the community quarantine would mean a reopening of the ports and the resumption of operations of commercial flights. This would result to an influx of Overseas Filipino Workers from high-risk areas in the province, Lacson said.
Classifying the province as low-risk would also mean that it would not anymore have the power to implement precautionary measures, like the mandatory 14-day quarantine for repatriated OFWs and returning Negrenses.
“These measures normally ensure that the province controls the people coming inside the borders and has proven to be effective in intercepting potential carriers of the COVID-19 virus,” Lacson said.
The governor also cited the cases of the five repatriated OFWs who all tested positive for COVID-19. The spread of the virus was curbed because the repatriated OFWs were made to undergo, among others, diagnostic testing, and a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government facility.
Places with high risk areas like Cebu and NCR could also pose a threat to the province, Lacson said.
Removing the community quarantine would also mean a relaxing border restrictions and cessation of home quarantine measures. This means an influx of more people from these high risk areas, increasing the risk of exposure of all Negrenses.
The governor also said extending the GCQ will give the province time to complete the construction of its bio-lab at the Teresita Jalandoni Provincial Hospital which is currently at Stage 4.
The bio-lab will help increase the province’s existing testing capacity and detect COVID-19 infections quickly, as well as isolate and treat those infection, Lacson added.