COVID-19-free Siquijor not letting its guard down

Published July 3, 2020, 4:37 PM

by Minerva Newman

SIQUIJOR ISLAND —The Island Province of Siquijor has remained vigilant in strictly enforcing local health and safety protocols, especially for returning Siquijodnons who are locally stranded individuals (LSIs), overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) or authorized personnel outside of residence (APOR), as well as tourists.

According to Rizalie Calibo, provincial head, Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-Siquijor all the local chief executives (LCEs) here believed that the strict implementation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) health protocols was one of the major reasons the province has remained free of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) until now.

Calibo said that the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF-7), in a resolution, enjoined all LCEs in Central Visayas to allow the entry of government officials and employees authorized to physically work in their respective local government units without subjecting them to a 14-day quarantine health measure.

In response to the regional IATF, Siquijor Governor Zaldy Villa, in behalf of the Provincial COVID-19 Task Force of Siquijor, sent them a letter stating the province’s resolve and firm stand that all the returning APORs have to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine except for the doctors, medical front liners, and other APORs whose services were considered essential to the province.

“As much as the province would like to adhere to your guidelines, we also cater to the needs of the Siquijodnons, which is to protect them by observing and strictly implementing all the preventive measures against COVID-19,” Villa said in his letter to the RIATF-7.

Calibo said that Siquijor continued to strictly implement the mandatory 14-day quarantine at the designated quarantine facilities of the incoming Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs), Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and APOR as one of the measures the province adopts to date.

All the public health protocols since March this year have been followed and the Provincial COVID-19 Task Force was firm on its decision to subject all LSIs, OFWS, and APORs to the same protocols, Calibo added.

Exempted from the 14-day quarantine protocols were doctors, medical front liners, and other APOR whose services are essential to the province, but they still must undergo the Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) and should test negative before proceeding to work or appointment.

Villa also reminded them to refrain from associating closely with the locals for 14 days and observe other health protocols like wearing of face masks and they are being closely monitored by the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO).

“As chairman of the task force and Governor of this province, I do not have anything in mind but always the safety of the Siquijodnons. We are with you in the pursuit of normal life conditions within the new normal where our health and welfare remain our priority,” Villa said in his letter to the RIATF. 

Meanwhile, the Task Force met on June 29 for a public hearing on the proposed “ordinance requiring all persons to wear face mask ” at all times in public places within the province of Siquijor to abate the spread of COVID-19.”

During the public hearing, Villa said there should be no financial penalties in the imposition of the ordinance as the people were already suffering from the effects of the pandemic.