Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson welcomed the move of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 to suspend the return of locally-stranded individuals to Negros Occidental for two weeks, beginning June 27.
Lacson said it will provide a respite to the province since all its quarantine facilities are already full and the people in-charge of accommodating the returning Negrenses also need a break.
“We should be happy that we were given two weeks because the quarantine facilities are already overwhelmed and even the personnel on the ground who have to receive them and move them from one quarantine area to another, these people are also tired. It will be a good rest,” Lacson said in an interview on Monday.
He added that during the said period, the provincial government will be able to decongest and disinfect the quarantine facilities and be ready to receive the LSIs once again after two weeks.
“For sure, this is a big help. It’s not only our province, but also the whole Region 8 and the rest of Region 6 because this has been the clamor of the LGUs (local government units),” the governor said.
Lacson acknowledged though that even after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, chairperson of National Task Force Against Covid-19, announced the suspension of the return of LSIs, many Negrenses still appealed that they be allowed to come home.
On Wednesday last week, the provincial government suspended the entry of its own residents coming from the neighboring province of Cebu, whose capital city has the highest coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country.
Lacson said aside from quarantine facilities being full, the province also wants to avoid more positive cases coming from Cebu and Metro Manila.
As of Monday, Negros Occidental already has 83 confirmed cases of Covid-19, most of whom are LSIs and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who traveled from Metro Manila and Cebu.
In a statement on Monday, Lorenzana said Negros Occidental and Iloilo requested a temporary halt in the repatriation because large numbers of LSIs are from the said localities, and their capacity to receive these people is being pushed to the limit.
The two-week suspension will enable the task force to establish a better procedure to ensure that returning residents are Covid-19-free as well as help LGUs improve their response to the health crisis, he added. (PNA)