GENERAL SANTOS CITY: The city government has tightened the screening process for passengers arriving at the city international airport and other entry points here in the wake of the removal of the quarantine requirement for travelers and returning residents.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera said Wednesday they have assigned additional teams to ensure that all individuals entering the city are properly documented and assessed as part of the precautionary measures.
He reiterated that only the passengers that would be able to present valid negative test results for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) through antigen or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing would be allowed to enter the area.
“We’re still under a pandemic so rest assured that we are not letting our guards down,” he said in a press conference.
Rivera said those that would fail the health screening or manifest suspected symptoms of Covid-19 will be isolated and properly monitored.
He said the local government, through the City Inter-Agency Task Force (CIATF) for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, is closely monitoring the situation for possible adjustments to the prevailing protocols.
This includes their possible impact on the area’s Covid-19 status and the overall compliance of concerned residents, he said.
The city government, through Executive Order No. 10 issued by the mayor, scrapped the quarantine requirement for returning residents and travelers effective last Monday in compliance with Resolution No. 101 of the national IATF.
The measure, which provides for the uniform travel protocols for local government units, also removed the travel authority and medical certificate requirements.
Dr. Lobert Padua, infectious diseases specialist and CIATF consultant, said they are continuously evaluating the area’s situation, especially the risk level on the possible spread of the mutant strains of Covid-19.
Among their consideration is the imposition of mandatory 14-day quarantine for returning OFWs and travelers from countries with increasing cases of the Covid-19 variants, he said.
The city has not yet recorded any case so far of the four disease variants that were already detected in other parts of the country.
“The 14-day quarantine is important since it usually takes two weeks for the genome sequencing results to come out and based on our experience, Covid-19 symptoms of those infected could still develop after seven or 10 days,” he said.
Rivera assured that they are taking note of these observations and ready to implement the necessary adjustments if necessary.
“In a worst case scenario, in case there will be another surge of Covid-19 cases, we might recall our previous measures, including the quarantine protocol. But going back to another lockdown will be our last resort,” he said.
As of Tuesday night, the confirmed Covid-19 cases in the city already reached a total of 2,088, with 83 related deaths, but 1,947 of the patients have fully recovered.
The active cases in the area have so far dropped to 58, the lowest since the surge in September last year, as the recorded infections continued to slow down in the past several days.