Bicol guvs implement stricter border control

By Mar S. Arguelles


The Bicol Pandemic Task Force announced on Tuesday, Aug. 3, that the six governors of the Bicol region have agreed to implement tighter border control measures to prevent the entry and spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, which health authorities a highly transmissible virus strain.


Lawyer Anthony Nuyda, regional director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and chairperson of the Bicol Interagency Task Force (BIATF), said the stricter border control measures will be carried out in all provincial boundaries, airports and seaports especially in the Bicol-Quezon border zone.


He said the Bicol governors have agreed to issue as soon as possible executive orders implementing the border control measures.


The measures aim to prevent the entry of local residents from the National Capital Region (NCR) who would like to return home in anticipation of the lockdown in Metro Manila on Saturday, Aug. 6 until Aug. 30.


Nuyda said “the anticipatory measure would ensure that these returning local residents are not infected by the virus especially the Delta variant that is highly transmissible and dangerous.”


Personnel manning the border checkpoints will only allow entry to essential travelers and APOR (authorized person outside residence) with health travel documents such as antigen or RT-PCR negative test results.


Nuyda said in Camarines Sur, the local IATF has required all travelers from Metro Manila and other regions bound for the province to undergo free antigen test, and those found to be infected with the disease would be brought to the designated quarantine facility.


He said this measure would also be implemented in other provinces.


P2P passenger buses


Only accredited Point-to-Point (P2P) passenger buses will be allowed in the region, provided that they follow the required passenger capacity and for the passengers to submit during inspection their antigen or RT-PCR negative test results.


The Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) will field personnel at the border control areas to check and apprehend colorum vans and cars carrying passengers with fake travel passes.


Delta variant


On recommendation of health authorities, the BIATF has issued a directive to all local chief executives to step up disease surveillance, contact tracing, and putting up of separate facilities for people infected with the Delta variants in provinces, cities, and towns.


The BITF has also urge local executives to direct their barangay officials to set up a monitoring system and step up the contact tracing system that will check and record individuals that enter and visit residents in their respective communities.


Vaccination rollout


During the BIATF meeting on Aug. 2, the DOH reported that while it has achieved a 100 percent vaccination for target health workers, it however failed to meet the target of 80 percent for senior citizens and persons with comorbidities or A2 and A3 group because of many of these individuals are hesitant to be vaccinated.


“We have to launched an aggressive campaign to convince these senior citizens and those persons with comorbidities to be vaccinated, because studies indicate that there is a very high mortality rate under this group,” Nuyda said.


Nuyda even cited the vaccination rollout of the one-shot dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine exclusively for A2 and A3 priority group, where reports said some LGU’s have not yet started to administer to the elderly and people with comorbidities


Another issue that the BIAT has observed was the slow implementation of vaccination procedures in almost all towns in Bicol.


Nuyda when asked for the list, has begged off to name the towns with vaccination backlogs. He renewed his appeal to the governors to assist their towns officials in fast tracking the vaccination activities in their respective areas.