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Jerry Treñas keeps RT-PCR test requirement for returning OFWs

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ILOILO CITY – The city government here will retain its local health protocols, which include the mandatory reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing and isolation, for returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) upon arrival.

Mayor Jerry Treñas said upon the recommendation of the Iloilo City Covid-19 Team, he opted “to retain our local health protocols, including swab test and government facility quarantine”.

He also cited the general welfare provision of the Local Government Code “expressly placing upon local government units the duty and responsibility to promote health and safety…among their residents”.

“The undersigned deems that retaining the local health protocols applicable to ROFs will give Iloilo City better chances of slowing down transmission and will avert the city’s exposure to incalculable jeopardy,” he said in his letter addressed to the national Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 on Friday.

He added that the city government is willing to accept ROFs on the condition that they shall undergo a swab test and be subjected to quarantine protocols.

Paragraph 75 of the Operational Guidelines on the Management of ROFs states that “ROFs shall no longer be subjected to mandatory swab test and government facility quarantine by the receiving LGU”.

Treñas said while ROFs could be negative for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) from their point of origin, yet they are not immune from the disease while they are in transit.

“We cannot help but visualize the practicability of dispensing with the testing and isolation of ROFs by receiving LGUs,” he said.

While no cases were reported as of noon of Sept. 18, increasing Covid-19 cases have been noted in the city in the past days.

On Sept 17, the city has 55 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 82 cases on Sept. 16. and 120 on Sept. 15.

The city government also placed on surgical lockdown 18 barangays.

However, a liquor ban is implemented in barangays under surgical lockdown and their curfew hours start from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. the next day. (PNA)