The city government will soon require incoming and outgoing airline passengers here to have negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) prior to their travel.
This, as the Sangguniang Panlungsod or city council passed an ordinance on Tuesday, adding such requirement to all air travel passengers of the city international airport before they would be allowed to enter and depart from the area.
City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr., author of the ordinance, said Wednesday the move was in response to the increasing cases of Covid-19 among returning stranded residents from Metro Manila and other areas with sustained local transmission of the disease.
He said the passage of the measure was requested by the city’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“This is to control and prevent further transmission of Covid-19 in the city and other areas in the country,” he said in an interview.
Under the ordinance, all inbound passengers are required to present negative RT-PCR test results for Covid-19 to authorized airline personnel before boarding their flights to the city and to assigned airport inspectors upon arrival.
The test should have been taken 72 hours prior to the travel and those processed by overseas laboratories will be accepted and recognized, provided results written in foreign language should have English translation.
It said all newly-arrived passengers will then undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days in isolation facilities designated by the city government.
All passengers from other localities should immediately travel to their respective areas and comply with the quarantine protocols of their local government units (LGUs). Those who have no travel arrangements and opt to stay will be brought a local isolation facility and undergo quarantine for 14 days.
For outbound passengers, the ordinance requires them as well to present negative RT-PCR test result for Covid-19, taken 72 hours prior to the travel, before entering the airport premises.
The City Health Office (CHO) will coordinate the strict implementation of the ordinance with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, airline companies and other concerned agencies.
Passengers who would be found with falsified RT-PCR test result, refuse to undergo the 14-day quarantine and leave the quarantine site without authority from the CHO will face a fine of not more than PHP5,000 and one-year imprisonment.
Gacal said the negative RT-PCR requirement is on top of the travel requirements set by the national IATF on Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID), which include the authority to travel and letter of acceptance from the LGU.
It covers all inbound and outbound passengers such as the LSIs, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR).
Under IATF-EID guidelines, he said persons classified as APOR, who are mainly essential workers, are exempted from certain screening processes, “even though they are also possible carriers of Covid-19.”
“We urgently need to impose (these) precautionary measures to properly screen the arrival of all inbound and outbound air travel passengers, and protect us from the spread of Covid-19,” he added.
The ordinance will take effect after approval by City Mayor Ronnel Rivera and publication as required by law. (PNA)