Davao Oriental bars entry of private vehicles from other areas, for now

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 May) — The provincial government of Davao Oriental will not allow the entry of private vehicles from outside the province, particularly from areas that are still under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)  while the province is under  general community quarantine (GCQ).

In its statement on May 7, Dr. Reden Bersaldo, action officer of the Provincial Task Force on COVID-19, said  the only way to enter the province is through Oplan Sundo (Oplan Fetch).

“Only those rescued by Oplan Sundo as well as individuals considered as frontliners will be allowed entry in the province,” he said.

On Thursday, the provincial government also said this new policy was based on the recommendation of the provincial task force  “in reference to the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines recently issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

“This policy was also agreed during the recent meeting of Governor Nelson Dayanghirang with the local chief executives of the municipalities and city as they adopted President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 112,” it said.

Bersaldo also noted that even with Davao City’s move permitting the entry of private vehicles from areas outside by easing its lockdown restrictions starting May 8 for those who will fetch stranded relatives, the re-entry of these vehicles to the province of Davao Oriental will not be permitted.

Davao City, a hotspot for COVID-19, has the highest number of cases in the Davao region – 143 out of 161 as of 5 p.m. on May 7, according to the Department of Health regional office. It also has the highest number of COVID-19 positives in the entire Mindanao.

Davao City and its neighbors Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro are under extended ECQ.  Davao de Oro shares boundaries with Davao Oriental.

Davao City recently decided to ease the lockdown starting May 8 to allow private vehicles to pick up their stranded relatives in the city within a 12-hour period.

Bersaldo also said that even if they want Davao Oriental residents to be fetched,  “screening of all these residents is still not feasible.”

“If we allow everyone to go home, our quarantine facilities cannot hold them,” he said,  noting that it is also a high possibility that with the large number of individuals coming into the province, they will not be monitored given the province’s limited manpower and facilities.

“There’s a huge chance that these people aboard private vehicles will not be properly screened. They might also evade surveillance and go straight to their homes in the communities, thus, exposing the people in the community,” he added.

Bersaldo also stressed that only through their Oplan Sundo can the province be assured that proper health protocols are being practiced since all individuals picked up by the provincial government’s program  are properly accounted for and follow he necessary health protocols upon entering the province.

Last week, the province started its risk testing using RT-PCR of all individuals picked up by Oplan Sundo.

“All of them have been tested by swabbing through RT-PCR which is the gold standard test wherein we can say if a person is positive to the virus or not,” he said.

As of May 7,  115 individuals have been brought back by Oplan Sundo program out of the 3,000 applicants.

The provincial government bared that 95 of these individuals were considered persons under monitoring  (PUM) and 12 as COVID-19 suspects. (Warren Elijah E. Valdez / MindaNews)