LAPU-LAPU City Mayor Junard Chan and Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, expressed support for the swab upon arrival policy being imposed by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on returning overseas Filipinos (ROF).
Chan pointed out that ROFs, who test negative for Sars-CoV-2 upon arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), will still go into isolation at home while waiting to be swabbed on the seventh day as mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
For Garganera, who serves as deputy chief implementer of the Inter-Agency Task Force Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Cebu City, the governor’s policy is not only practical, but also “medically compliant.”
Chan and Garganera threw their support behind Garcia after the governor said two national officials were planning to file a case against her for defying the IATF policy.
Garcia earlier explained that the IATF policy is still being implemented in Cebu, with ROFs now undergoing two swab or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The first is conducted upon their arrival, based on Garcia’s Executive Order No. 17. The second is conducted on the seventh day from arrival, based on IATF Resolution No. 114.
Garcia’s EO 17, however, deviates from the IATF policy that requires all international arrivals, regardless of vaccination status, to undergo quarantine for 14 days, with the first 10 days in a designated quarantine facility.
Regardless of the swab test result on the seventh day, all arrivals must complete 10 days of facility-based quarantine. If negative for the virus, they will be allowed to undergo home quarantine for the remaining four days.
Under EO 17 issued by Garcia in March 2021, ROFs will be required to quarantine in a hotel only while waiting for the test result. If the result is negative, they will be allowed to go home.
Transit passengers are also required to undergo a swab test before they can proceed to their destination.
This local policy was enacted into law through Provincial Ordinance 2021-04.
In Cebu City, ROFs are also required to present a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours prior to their arrival.
Garganera said he believes that most of the arriving international passengers have already been vaccinated against Covid-19 anyway.
“Cebu City EOC, we are one with Governor Gwen’s EO (executive order) and her position with regard to the arrival of ROFs,” Garganera told reporters.
“How did the governor’s EO violate the IATF policy? If they are going to penalize the governor for her good deeds, they might as well include us,” he added.
Garganera discussed the swab policy in Cebu with representatives of Department of Health offices from Bohol, Siquijor, Dumaguete in Negros Oriental and Cebu Province, who visited the Cebu City EOC on May 26.
In Lapu-Lapu City, Chan said he will continue to abide by the governor’s swab policy.
He said he will ask the Barangay Health and Emergency Response Team to closely monitor newly arrived ROFs, including overseas Filipino workers, to make sure that they will undergo home quarantine until their swab test on the seventh day.
He pointed out that Covid-19 cases in Cebu are already on the downtrend.
In Lapu-Lapu City, Chan said they recorded zero new infections on May 24 and nine new cases the next day.
Chan said this means that the protocols against Covid-19 transmission are working.
“We have not been complacent. I hope they will reconsider because the cases in Cebu are very low. We must have a balance between public health and the economy,” he said as he noted that Lapu-Lapu City is highly dependent on tourism. (JJL / GCM)