Guv. Ongchuan Accepts LSIs Despite Appeal To Extend Ban

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The provincial government of Northern Samar will continue to accept returning locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to the province despite their formal request extending the ban on the return of LSIs in their area.

Northern Samar Governor Edwin Ongchuan said on Sunday they are bound to accept returning residents during this health crisis while waiting for the response of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases on extending the travel ban.

The provincial government made the appeal after the end of the 14-day travel ban to Eastern Visayas for persons stranded outside the region from June 26 to July 9. The proposed moratorium is until July 31.

“We will allow documented locally stranded individuals to enter and return to our province. They just have to coordinate with their respective local government units,” Ongchuan said.

Aside from Northern Samar, Biliran province also sent the same request to the regional IATF and the regional task force on Covid-19. The two regional bodies approved the resolution dated July 10. However, the proposal needs approval by the national IATF.

The two provinces cited “limited resources and capacity to quarantine these returning residents” to justify the extension.

The two local governments also cited the absence of a level 3 hospital in their respective areas, limited number of hospital beds, shortage of supplies and materials for Covid-19 treatment and lack of healthcare workers and professionals.

They added that because of these problems, “the local health care system would be easily overwhelmed in the event of a surge of Covid-19 patients.”

As of July 12, the number of Covid-19 cases in Biliran rose to 22, of which seven of them have already recovered while one has died. All the eight towns in the province have Covid-19 patients.

Northern Samar has 22 cases, including 11 recoveries. Six of the 24 towns in the province logged confirmed coronavirus cases.

On June 25, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año approved the request of local officials in Eastern Visayas to suspend the travel of LSIs for 14 days as part of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) containment measures.

As of July 12, the region has 646 confirmed cases, including 535 recoveries and three deaths. (PNA)