NEGROS ORIENTAL, Philippines – In just four days, the number of active COVID-19 cases here increased to more than threefold, data from the provincial government showed.
This comes as the province was placed under the stricter Alert Level 3 status beginning Sunday, January 16, until January 31, and a nationwide record COVID-19 surge driven by the highly-infectious Omicron variant.
Overall COVID-19 isolation bed capacity in the province was at 24% as of January 14, up from 17% as of January 10. But COVID-19 bed utilization at the Silliman University Medical Center in Dumaguete City jumped from 29% or 19 beds on Monday, January 10, to 49% or 32 beds on Friday, January 14.
In response to this surge, the provincial government was drafting an executive order (EO) detailing restrictions under Alert Level 3. Dr Liland Estacion, incident commander of the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (PIATF), said there was a plan to unify the border protocols for the provinces of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.
“Happy pud ta kay niingon pud ang atoang silingan, ang probinsya sa Negros Occidental na kung pwede ang EO sa Oriental ug Occidental usahon lang para dili magkaproblema ang atong mga katawhan nga mosulod dinhi sa isla sa Negros (We are happy because our neighboring province Negros Occidental requested that the EOs of both Negros provinces be alike so that those entering the island won’t have any problems,” Estacion said in an online press briefing last January 14.
Last January 11, the PIATF passed a resolution which proposed that inbound travelers be required to present a negative antigen test result upon entry to the province regardless of vaccination status.
However, this has not yet been implemented as Governor Roel Degamo has yet to issue an executive order enforcing the PIATF resolution.
Under the current rules, fully-vaccinated individuals only need to show their vaccination card and valid ID to enter the province. Unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated individuals need to present a negative antigen test valid within 48 hours from the release of results.