COVID-19 test booths inside the Mactan Cebu International Airport. | Photos courtesy of MCIAA
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Can Cebus Swab-Upon-Arrival policy be adopted nationwide?
For Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, only if local governments already have the right systems and surveillance procedures to contain any outbreak of COVID-19.
If you ask me if it can be adopted, yes it can be adopted as a whole-of-nation approach as deemed by our experts, Loreche, the spokesperson of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7), told reporters in a press briefing on Thursday, June 10.
But there is a need to assess the LGU (local government unit) capacity to do monitoring and surveillance. We can do it here in Cebu because we have systems and processes in place, she added.
Several national government officials and groups have backed the provinces Swab-Upon-Arrival policy, and some of them even called the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) to implement it nationwide.
Loreche on Thursday reiterated that local officials in Cebu did not interrupt any objectives on the governments response against the COVID-19 outbreak by having swabbing protocols for Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that deviated from those implemented by the IATF.
We have always been obedient. We have never been disobedient We went one step further kay han-ay atong protocols and processes in Cebu (because our protocols and processes in Cebu are already in place), she explained.
Albeit acknowledging that the system here may not be perfect, Loreche further defended the Swab-Upon-Policy by pointing out that containing the spread of COVID-19 is more crucial than controlling entry points.
There is no perfect system We have to be dynamic in the way we approach COVID-19 because its going to stay with us, Loreche added.
As of June 10, at least five Senators expressed support on Cebus Swab-Upon-Arrival Policy. They are Senators Tito Sotto, Sonny Angara, Bong Revilla, Migz Zubiri, and Joel Villanueva.
House Deputy House Speaker Bernadette Herrera-Dy, together with all congressional representatives from Cebu province and AKO Bisaya Rep. Sonny Lagon also backed the Capitols rule.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Cebu Chapter (IBP-Cebu) earlier stated that the Swab-Upon-Arrival policy did not violate any existing laws. They, too, urged concerned government agencies to sustain its implementation. /rcg
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