Leyte province managed to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) despite the arrival of about 5,000 locally stranded individuals (LSIs) in the past five weeks.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said local government units in the province have been proactive in monitoring all arrivals of returning residents from Metro Manila and Cebu, the country’s hot spots for Covid-19.
“By isolating and strictly checking all returnees, we’re able to continue our economic activities without spreading the virus,” Petilla said during a provincial government-sponsored radio program Wednesday afternoon.
All towns and cities in the province were able to establish quarantine and isolation facilities for LSIs. All arrivals have been subjected to swab testing at the state-run Eastern Visayas Regional Covid-19 Testing Center and privately-owned Divine Word Hospital Virology Laboratory both in Tacloban City.
The province has been welcoming thousands of returning residents since the national government launched the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program with Leyte as the pilot area.
Of the 116 BP2 recipients comprising the first batch who arrived on May 21 from Metro Manila, only three turned positive for Covid-19.
“The three have fully recovered weeks ago and they have been back to their communities. Their life in Leyte is way better than in Manila. Here in the province, they will not go hungry since they can plant, work and travel outside their villages,” Petilla said.
As of Thursday, Leyte has 258 confirmed cases with 198 recoveries, according to the Department of Health.
Of the total, 187 of the infected are LSIs, 44 are locally acquired, 24 are overseas Filipino workers, and three are BP2 beneficiaries.
After the arrival of BP2 beneficiaries, the province monitored thousands of returning LSIs after the government relaxed its quarantine protocols allowing travels going out of big cities such as Metro Manila and Cebu. They arrived through rented vehicles while others through ferry and planes.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año on June 25 approved the plan to suspend the travel of LSIs to Eastern Visayas for 14 days as part of Covid-19 containment measures.
Local officials in the region made the recommendation due to the soaring number of Covid-19 cases in the area.
In a formal request sent by local government officials to the regional IATF, they asked for a minimum of the two-week interval before LSIs and overseas Filipino workers will be allowed to travel to their hometowns in the region.
The time will allow local authorities to recover from “human fatigue”, replenish supplies, and disinfect quarantine and isolation facilities. The ban will be lifted on July 9.
“We are ready to accept LSIs since this is their home province. Instead of discriminating against them, let us support them. There is a way to accommodate them without spreading the virus to others,” Petilla added.
Of the 40 towns and one city under the jurisdiction of Leyte province, only eight towns remain free of Covid-9. These are the towns of San Isidro, Merida, Tunga, Mayorga, MacArthur, Javier, Mahaplag, and Inopacan. (PNA)