TACLOBAN CITY- The 14-day suspension of travel authority for locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to Eastern Visayas starting June 25, 2020 is a “welcome move” from the national government in the midst of rising cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the region.
“I believe all local government units in Eastern Visayas are relieved with the news. It will allow them at least two weeks to review and recalibrate their Covid-19 response programs,” said Tacloban Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año formally announced the suspension after meeting with the officials from regional Inter-Agency Task Force in Palo, Leyte on June 24.
“DILG Secretary Año heeded the request of the mayors to temporarily suspend the return to Leyte of the LSIs until such time that the municipal quarantine and isolation centers can accommodate them already,” said Leyte Vice Governor Carlo Loreto.
According to Loreto, Año also requested for a list of Leyteños stranded in Cebu and Manila so that they may be provided with relief assistance.
“We are at a very uncertain time but we will continue our fight against COVID-19. Let us help each other in stopping this pandemic by following health protocols,” the vice governor said in a statement.
The Department of Health (DOH) has identified Leyte, Samar, Southern Leyte and Ormoc City as “emerging hotspots” for coronavirus due to the sudden increase in COVID-19 cases.
As of Saturday evening, June 26, Eastern Visayas has a total of 496 COVID-19 cases, with three deaths.
Several lawmakers in Eastern Visayas suspected the national government’s “Hatid Probinsya/Hatid Tulong” program as the reason in the rapid spread of coronavirus in the region.
“…We firmly believe that it is the duty of the government to ensure that these constituents of ours are free from coronavirus infection and other diseases before they are allowed to rejoin their family members. Their freedom from Covid-19 infection means that their loved ones are free from harm, too,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.