DESPITE being placed under Alert Level 2, the Provincial Government of Davao Occidental will still require a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result for non-residents and those not working in the province.
This is in accordance with Executive Order (EO) No. 28 signed and issued by Governor Claude Bautista on Tuesday, November 16.
According to EO, this applies to returning residents of Davao Region who are non-authorized persons outside residence (Apor), non-residents with essential travels, and tourists.
Provincial Information Officer Oscar Casaysay told SunStar Davao in a phone interview on Thursday, November 18, that the presented RT-PCR test result must be taken within 72 hours before they will be allowed entry into the borders of the province.
Casaysay explained that they had to retain the RT-PCR requirement for those entering the province to avoid another Covid-19 surge in the province, which could overwhelm the province’s limited healthcare facilities.
“Maskin naa na ta sa Alert Level 2, dili lang man gud positive cases ang ginabasehan, ato ginatan-aw sa katibuk-an unsa ang kakayahan sa matag area sa pagtubag kung duna bay kaso,” he said.
(Even if we are under Alert Level 2, we still have to closely monitor the active cases and the local bed capacities of each area in the province.)
Currently, the Davao Occidental Provincial Hospital is under renovation, resulting in the lack of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. This resulted in some critical and severe Covid-19 patients being transported to Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City.
“Dili ingon ana pa kalig-on ang capacity sa ICU ug hospitalization sa probinsya… Kung naay magkasakit, severe atong ginapadala sa SPMC. And it is more than three hours depending on the traffic situation,” Casaysay said.
(We have a limited healthcare facility in the province. If someone is considered a severe case, they are transported to SPMC. Travel time could be more than three hours, depending on the traffic situation.)
“Regardless kung baba ang kaso namo sa mga positive, we have to maintain [our requirement] for non-residents and non-workers of Davao Occidental [of] a negative RT-PCR. We hope you will understand that,” he added.
Returning residents, meanwhile, are required to bring their vaccination cards. While the EO does not require that only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to pass through the border, Casaysay said non-vaccinated residents may have to present additional requirements before they can enter the province.
“Unsa rason nila ngano dili sila magpa-vaccine? (Why do they not want to get the vaccine?) That is why we need to educate them. We also need to restrict their movement. Pamaagi ni nga madisiplina sila, ug malimit ang paglakaw-lakaw sa mga dili bakunado (We want to discipline them and limit the movements of the unvaccinated),” the official said.
Casaysay said vaccine hesitancy remains to be a problem in the province due to several factors. While they are almost at 50 percent of their targeted herd immunity, he said only a limited number of people are visiting the vaccination hubs despite already allowing walk-ins.
As of now, he said the province is not keen on lifting the mandatory RT-PCR.
According to the Department of Health-Davao Region data as of November 17, the province had 17 active Covid-19 cases.