THE border or travel pass issued to authorized persons outside residence (Apor) continues to be a source of monitoring loopholes in the government’s initiative in combating the Covid-19 pandemic at the local government level.
Most local government implementation guidelines contain monitoring components for screening applicants, screening returning Apor individuals, and screening visiting Apor holders.
Apart from routine identification requirements, applicants for Apor are required to furnish the authorizing local unit work schedule, medical clearance, travel orders and locator forms.
Both visiting and returning Apor holders are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine at home. Those who planned not to stay for less than 14 days are not allowed to go outside their place of residence. This latter requirement is prone to violation from visitors who arrive for business and other short-term activities.
Nevertheless, Apor is a common source of Covid-19 infection when the authorized individuals flaunt local health protocol and move around the community infecting others.
Since the Apor initiative from the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) in May this year, Apor holders have become sources of infection in the community.
A recent case in Negros Oriental is a case in point, specifically NegOrCov-191. This Apor holder did not self-quarantine in Manila, staying there only for two days. After returning to Negros Oriental on Oct. 3, he also did not self-quarantine, visiting his office, several government offices (courts, jail and labor relations offices), and a school. It had already infected seven individuals in his office, and more are expected. He approached the Provincial Health Office three days after experiencing symptoms, during which he visited his office and the Hall of Justice.
The loophole appeared to be the lack of monitoring when these Apor individuals entered the local community. The Apor issuing unit does not ensure that they have self-quarantined and been tested before they move around in the community.
Perhaps an enhancement of the protocol is necessary. The Apor issuing unit must take responsibility in checking out by call or visit any Apor already scheduled to return on a specific date to ensure compliance. A travel report must also be emailed to the issuing unit to document travels outside and inside the community after returning and before self-quarantine. Otherwise, their Apor pass should be revoked.
This is a small measure but is a crucial one. It plugs the Apor loophole, preventing irresponsible Apor holders from endangering the community.
The protocol implementation as it is must change. Relying on Apor holders to submit voluntarily to self-quarantine and test is simply not working.