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Bicol border closed to non-essential travelers

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) in Bicol has closed the region’s border starting Tuesday, Apr. 6 to nonessential travelers coming from Metro Manila and other Covid-19 hot spots.

Lawyer Anthony Nuyda, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) regional director and IATF Bicol chair, said a stricter border patrol measure is now being implemented in the Bicol-Quezon province boundaries to prevent the entry of vans and private vehicles carrying passengers who have non-essential travel purpose to the region.

Nuyda confirmed earlier reports that 12 “colorum” vehicles, or private vans boarded by paying passengers, carrying 79 persons were held in a patrol checkpoint at the Bicol-Quezon boundary in Del Gallego town in Camarines Sur during the Holy Week. At least nine of the passengers tested positive for Covid-19 while the rest either presented fake swab test results or questionable negative Covid-19 test results, he said.

The DILG official questioned why authorities in Metro Manila have allowed these vans to travel considering that the National Capital Region and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna are under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until Apr. 11.

He expressed alarm that the unabated entry of local residents from Metro Manila, especially those who tested positive for Covid-19, would lead to a spike of cases in the Bicol region.

Nuyda said the six Bicol governors have met on Tuesday, Apr. 6 to firm up uniform guidelines on how to seal its borders to non-essential travelers.

He said the region’s provincial officials hoped to halt the rising cases, which recorded a spike of infections over the Holy Week, from barely a hundred to 619 active cases as of Apr. 4.

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