MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Sunday, June 28, that the repatriation of locally-stranded individuals (LSIs) to Western and Eastern Visayas will be suspended for two weeks to help lessen the spread of the coronavirus in those areas.
In a media interview, Lorenzana said he approved the suspension, which will last for two weeks starting Sunday.
“We have to do this because the LSIs are the ones bringing the virus to the provinces. The data from Bacolod and Iloilo City bear this out,” he explained, adding that the local government units (LGUs) in those areas asked for the suspension.
Lorenzana then said the LSIs should stay put in their current locations.
“They have to wait where they are. They should not go to the airport or seaport. We have to get the LGUs to agree to receive them. Their problem is that their quarantine facilities are limited and they don’t want to be overwhelmed,” he said.
Eastern Visayas saw a spike in COVID-19 cases in June, mostly due to returning residents who tested positive for the virus. The region also recently reported its first 3 deaths due to the virus. (READ: Disorganized repatriation program puts E. Visayas rural healthcare at risk)
The government’s Balik Probinsya program – which sent its first batch to Leyte, comprised of persons living in Metro Manila for the past few years – had been suspended on June 11.
Meanwhile, the government’s other repatriation initiative, Hatid Probinsya, which caters to LSIs, will be temporarily regulated by the National Task Force on COVID-19.
As of Saturday, June 27, Eastern Visayas has 334 coronavirus cases, while Western Visayas has 245 cases. Bacolod City has 35 cases, while Iloilo City has 46 cases.
Data from the Department of Health also showed that up until May 31, Eastern Visayas only had 38 reported cases, while Western Visayas had 110 cases. Meanwhile, Bacolod City had 16 cases and Iloilo City had 28 cases at that point.
Nationwide, as of Saturday, there are 34,803 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,236 deaths and 9,430 recoveries. – Rappler.com