The city government canceled all incoming commercial flights at the airport here starting Monday, Aug. 24, “until further notice” amid fears of possible coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) local transmission.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera said in a statement the move to allow the area’s medical, security, and support front-liners assigned to conduct the ongoing contract-tracing activities for the recorded Covid-19 cases to “rest, recuperate and regroup”.
He cited the front-line workers deployed to track down the close contacts of at least seven Covid-19 patients from Barangays Bula, Fatima, and Apopong.
The contact-tracing is still ongoing for the fourth level contacts of the patients, some of whom were traced to have had exposure to confirmed cases, he said.
“These are the same front-liners who facilitate the entry of LSIs (locally stranded individuals) and ROFs (returning Overseas Filipino Workers) from incoming flights into the city,” the mayor said.
Rivera noted that a number of local support and medical front-liners are now under quarantine after one of the City Health Office’s (CHO) doctors assigned in rural health unit tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
The case of the 30-year-old female doctor was among the seven new infections recorded in the city since Aug. 17.
He said the suspension of incoming flights was deemed necessary by members of the city’s Inter-Agency Task Force (CIATF) for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases in the wake of such situation.
“We will be putting our residents in danger by fielding tired and overworked front-liners to man our airports and quarantine facilities,” he noted.
The mayor said the incoming commercial flights will resume flights once the contact-tracing activities are complete and “all our frontliners are declared safe from their quarantine”.
The incoming flights at the city international airport here resumed last week following a two-week suspension due to the implementation of modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila.
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air had two return flights every week from Manila every Monday and Thursday. The flights to and from Cebu were supposed to resume this week.
Starting last week, the city government required s all incoming and outgoing airline passengers to present negative Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test results taken at least 72 hours prior to scheduled travel.
Owing to the flight suspension, the CIATF said it will honor RT-PCR swab results even if it already passed the 72-hour window period.
Edgardo Cueto, manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines here, clarified in a text message that the suspension does not cover the “sweeper flights” arranged by the national government for the ROFs.
Cueto said they will continue to abide by the control measures and protocols set by the city government, including the negative RT-PCR test results for incoming and outgoing airline passengers. (PNA)