COVID-19

Bicol IATF seeks 1-month suspension of return of stranded residents

Rhaydz B. Barcia
Bicol IATF seeks 1-month suspension of return of stranded residents

117 locally stranded individuals board a train at the PNR Tutuban station in Manila bound for their respective provinces in the Bicol Region during the 2nd batch of Hatid Tulong program beneficiaries on Thursday midnight, June 25, 2020. The PNR is still expecting an estimated 300 more LSI's to avail of the free ride back to the province which will be scheduled early next month.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Bicol's coronavirus task force says some local governments expressed concern that their isolation facilities are nearing full capacity

Bicol’s coronavirus task force has asked for a one-month suspension of the return of locally-stranded individuals (LSIs) to the region.

Through Resolution No. 2020-14, the Bicol Inter-Agency Task Force (Bicol IATF) asked the national IATF to “consider the temporary suspension of one month…of the travel or return of locally-stranded individuals to Bicol Region.”

IATF-Bicol officials said that there have been an influx of returning LSIs from Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and other areas with active COVID-19 cases, and that many of the confirmed cases in the region were from this group.

As of Friday, July 3, local governments in Bicol have received at least 27,858 LSIs and 2,046 OFWs, including APORs.

IATF-Bicol also said that some LGUs expressed concern that their designated isolation facilities were already at full capacity, while facilities set up in public schools have to be returned to the Department of Education for the resumption of classes in August. For these reasons, they would not be able to accommodate the arrival of more LSIs for purposes of health assessment and quarantining at this time.

The Bicol IATF said if the request is not granted, LGUs would be compeled to send the returning residents to their respective homes and barangays which are not mostly suited for self-quarantine.

The regional task force also requested that LGUs be allowed “to finish the mandatory quarantine of those currently inside their designated quarantine facilities, disinfect and prepare these facilities for the next [batch], and provide a health break to attending health care frontline workers.”

It recommended a policy wherein agencies or LGUs who are sending LSIs to Bicol should submit a consilidated list of all the LSIs to Bicol IATF “as soon as possible so it can already coordinate with the LGUs concerned for assistance” and for other preparations upon their arrival.

The Bicol IATF adopted Resolution No. 2020-14 during a June 23 meeting. It was received by the DILG office in Naga on Thursday, July 2.

Other regional IATFs had made similar requests, which were granted by the national government. (READ: Gov’t suspends bringing back stranded individuals to Western, Eastern Visayas)

As of Thursday, Bicol has 130 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 46 active cases.

On July 1, Iriga City confirmed its first cases – a 30-year-old woman and an 8-year-old child who arrived from Cebu City. – Rappler.com

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