Marinduque suspends entry of foreign tourist amid rise of COVID cases

The entry of foreign travelers is temporarily prohibited in Marinduque due to the sudden increase in the number of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) positive cases in the province, Marinduque Gov. and League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) president Presbitero Velasco Jr. said Monday, Jan. 17.

Velasco said the rapid increase of COVID cases is probably caused by the omicron variant which health experts found to be highly infectious.

“Yung aming mga foreign travelers po ay suspended muna po yung entry (in Marinduque) dahil nga po biglang tumaas yung mga naging positive sa COVID (The entry of foreign travelers is suspended for now due to the expeditious rise in the number COVID positive cases),’’ Velasco said in an interview over ABS-CBN.

As to the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and returning Filipino travelers (ROF), Velasco stressed the need for them to present their Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) certificates and they must enter within three days of the last day of their quarantine period in the province.

“Pag lumagpas po (in the said days) ay kailangan na naman silang kumuha ng RT-PCR test or antigen test at kailangan po yan within three days bago po sya pumasok sa Marinduque (If they exceed the said period, they need to secure a RT-PCR test or antigen test and they should get it within three days before they enter Marinduque),’’ he added.

Velasco admitted to implementing stricter health protocols after the province was placed under alert level 3, citing that restricted border regulations were imposed for the unvaccinated individuals against COVID-19 and non-authorized persons outside residents (APORS).

“Pag bakunado po na APORS ay hindi po natin na sila iaantigen test or RT-PCR ay sila po naman ay isasubject sa medical examination and assessment ng atin pong mga medical team sa municipal health office (The vaccinated APORS will not be required to present antigen or RT-PCR tests but will be subjected by the medical team of the municipal health office to medical examination and assessment),’’ Velasco clarified.

The LPP chief stressed that Marinduque will impose the “no vax, no ride’’ policy adding that the municipal mayors and Sangguniang Bayan (provincial council) were urged to pass their respective ordinances to make the public aware of the guidelines.

“Kailangan po talagang merong ganyan mga stratehiya para po talaga mapabilis talaga yung bakunahan. Actually ho yung herd immunity po natin is 70 percent pa lang of the population. (There is really a need for this strategy to expedite the vaccination. Actually our herd immunity is only 70 percent of the population),’’ Velasco noted.

However, Velasco pointed out that there will be certain modifications in the “no vax, no ride’’ policy citing it is within their power to impose some changes when implementing the reasonable rule changes.

“Halimbawa kung yung driver naman po ay hindi pa fully vaccinated kung sila naman po ay naka antigen test at negative at dala po ang sertipiko pwede po silang bigyan ng ilang araw na (to drive). Valid po yan at after few days po o mga dalawang linggo mag antigen test po uli para po naman makabyahe (For example, if the driver is not fully vaccinated they can still drive for a few days if they can present a certificate of their negative antigen test. That is valid and after a few days or two weeks they should undergo another antigen test or them to lawfully travel),’’ Velasco emphasized.

He maintained that the drivers of public transport should force their passengers to wear face masks, observe physical distance and avoid talking with the other commuters even with face masks.

Velasco explained that stricter measures are being implemented citing that in Dec. Marinduque has zero COVID-19 positive RT-PCR cases with the number soaring to 11, then to 50 and now it is at more than 80.

“At yun naman pong aming antigen positive (cases) ay bigla pong naging mga 160 plus kaya medyo talaga pong tumaas ang hawaan dito sa COVID sa loob po ng lalawigan (And with regards to the antigen positive cases, the number suddenly rose to 160 plus that is why the COVID transmission slightly increased in the province),’’ Velasco lamented. (Chito A. Chavez)