COVID-19

Negros Occidental, Bacolod ‘harmonize’ COVID-19 travel protocols

Marchel Espina
Negros Occidental, Bacolod ‘harmonize’ COVID-19 travel protocols
Travelers to Negros Occidental and its capital, Bacolod City, no longer have to take RT-PCR tests as both provincial and city governments agree on rapid antigen tests

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — Negros Occidental and its capital city Bacolod have finally harmonized their travel policies for incoming passengers from outside Western Visayas and Negros Oriental.

Governor Eugenio Jose “Bong” Lacson, in a media interview, said the provincial government, starting February, will only require rapid antigen tests for all incoming passengers, including Bacolod-bound travelers.

His statement followed an online meeting on Friday, January 28, with Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia, who requested a lifting of the RT-PCR test requirements, including those from the national capital region, 

Mayors of towns and cities in the province, and provincial and Bacolod officials also joined the meeting.

“For Bacolod, we have settled that…the rapid antigen tests will be taken in Manila at a registered laboratory. There’s still a piece of document to be presented,” the governor said.

Passengers bound to other cities and towns of the province can have the rapid antigen tests in Manila or upon arrival, Lacson said, adding that the local tests are free for Bacolod residents.

The rapid antigen test policy covers all travelers, regardless of vaccination status.

“There’s no intention on the part of Bacolod to do away with any tests. They only asked if they could do the rapid antigen tests,” Lacson explained.

Leonardia’s letter noted that  travelers find it difficult to get RT-PCR tests on time for their trips, leading to problems with their flight schedules.

Leonardia thanked  Lacson for “hearing out and acting favorably” on Bacolod’s request.

He said the tests need to be administered and processed  by an accredited Department of Health (DOH) clinic or laboratory within 48 hours prior to their flight schedule to the city.

La Carlota City Mayor Rex Jalandoon, a doctor by profession, assured fellow local government officials that a rapid antigen test result has a very high accuracy rate and a reliable alternative to the more expensive RT-PCR.

Negros Occidental, including Bacolod, and the rest of Western Visayas, as well as Negros Oriental, are currently under Alert Level 3. – Rappler.com