NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
Bohol’s impressive management of the Covid situation won the national vote for the province to be one of the models for the reopening of Philippine tourism and re-churn the economy.
This was announced by both IATF Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and IATF Deputy Chief Implementer Vivencio Dizon, who is also the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and CEO, when they came here to deliver the first PCR machine from the national government for the molecular laboratory of Gov. CelestinoGallares Hospital (GCGMH).
The PCR machine arrived yesterday after just a week since Gov. Art Yap had requested it from Dizon- -even earlier than the response to the request of Gallares Hospital to the Department of Health (DOH).
“Sagot po sa mga dasal namin na dumating kaagad. Isang linggo ko lang tong tinawag kay Sec. Vince and he did everything that he could. And, also former DOH sec. Janette Garin, thank you.
What the provincial government will have to do now is “ramp up and prepare the Gallares Hospital to receive this and they also have their own PCR machine”.
“We will also establish another offsite laboratory outside of Panglao and Tagbilaran City. Thank you for announcing as well that there would be additional PCR machines here. Aside from the arrivals, we also have domestic sea travellers. Thank you for announcing and choosing Bohol as one of those premier candidate destinations nauunahinsapagbukas, pending, of course, following certain key protocols,” Yap told the officials.
Galvez lauded Gov. Art Yap’s strong leadership for keeping Bohol safe during the Covid pandemic.
To date, with one recovered Covid positive patient and three patients recovering in Cebu, Bohol has now returned to being Covid-free.
Galvez said he is thankful that Bohol has never been a headache to the IATF and that he is thankful to Yap’s leadership.
“I really wanted to convey my congratulations to the governor kasitalagang nakitanatin napaka-strange, tinatawagnating extraordinary angnagawani governor nanaging Covid-free ang Bohol for so long a time. Nakitanatinyongibangmga areas, even yong Baguio natalagangnapaingatni Gen. Magalong (Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong), nagkaroon pa rinng infection na 46, but we were able to cope it,” Galvez said.
Galvez also noted the strict protocols being followed in Bohol which helped preserve the province from local transmission.
“Nakitanatinmagandayongginagawanigovnatalagang very strict and stringent angkanyangtinatawagna port protocols natalagangtinitingnannyatalaganawalangmagkaroon natinatawagna importation (of the infection). So, that’s why we are coordinating with the governor kasitalagang gusto nyatalagana ma-preserve yongating Bohol namaging Covid-free,” Galvez added.
However, Galvez pointed out that Bohol still has to prepare to be able to handle the situation in case there would be local transmission.
“Perodapatmagprepare din tayokasi yon yonghindinatinmasasabina we will be Covid-free forever kasiwala pong ganyantalagana ideal situation. So, ngayonangginagawanatin, nagpi-prepare kami ni governor kung pa’nonggagawin just in case magkakaronng response para, at least, to cope with the Covid cases in case namagkakaronpotayongmgaganunnatinatawagnasitwasyon,” Galvez said.
Galvez explained that the reopening of economy would be gradual as what President Duterte wants it to be.
Reopening may start with 25 percent of the business by July, then 50 percent in the next months; and only when the province or the country can already have the capacity to react can reopening go full-blown at 100 percent.
He said the steps would be delicate for high-risk industries such as tourism and travel which are labelled as level-4 in risk categories.
Considering that tourism is one of the primary sources of livelihood of the people, the national government will explore and learn on how it can reopen a new avenue for the tourism industry and Bohol and Baguio will be models of the new face of economy under the new normal.
Reopening would be gradual- -to start with local tourism for the meantime, considering that there is no vaccine for Covid yet.
Galvez said the national government will be helping Bohol reopen its businesses
As proposed by the President, what will happen in June would still be a simulation but only after a protocol would have been formulated already.
DTI will also be consulted as to what types of businesses are safe to open again.
Galvez estimated that maybe June 1, Bohol could already be placed under MGCQ which means it would be nearing the new normal.
“Influx of OFWs will be there. But we can have the opportunities that our resorts will be converted into quarantine areas. At least kumita because they will be paid by OWWA,” Galvez said.
He assured that the President will always help Bohol in giving back jobs to those who had lost them.
Capacitating the laboratories will be a way to prepare Bohol as a model of the new-normal economy.
For his part, Dizon also lauded the efforts of Yap, his team and the people of Bohol who cooperated with the government in keeping Bohol Covid-free.
“Now, what we are working towards is to begin the process of opening up the economy again. With the leadership of Gov. Yap, Bohol is in good hands,” Dizon said.
Bohol has to establish molecular laboratories for the airport, seaports and the local government unit to be ready for the reopening of businesses under the new normal with the whole country watching the course.
“Napakaimportanteng testing, especially for a province, an island province like Bohol, where tourism is the primary industry. Nag-usapkaninasi Sec. Galvez at Gov. Yap at nakausap din posi Sec. Berna (Secretary Bernadette Romulo–Puyat) ng tourism and I think ang goal is to make Bohol one of the models parasapag-reopen ng tourism saPilipinas. Ginagawanaponatin yon ngayon,” according to Dizon.
In two to three weeks from now, the molecular laboratory of GCGMH will get its accreditation, according to Dizon.
“Very soon. Di nalangmuna kami magsasabing date. Peropini-prepare nanatin and the number 1 requirement for that to happen is to have a very strong testing capacity in Bohol. Within two to three weeks, ma-accredit napoang Gallares. And then, magtatayo din potayong laboratory dedicated parasa Panglao International Airport. Gagawinnarinnatin yon starting now. It will be an absolute necessity now for all international airports to have their own laboratory and Bohol is a top priority because of the strength of the tourism industry in Bohol,” Dizon added.
He said the PCR machine that they had delivered yesterday “will greatly capacitate the laboratory here in Bohol- -the Gallares Hospital”.
“And, from what I understand, it is already in stage 3 of the accreditation process. So, malapitnamalapitnapo. We think maybe in two to three weeks, we can already have the Gallares laboratory accredited. And the machine that we have provided today will greatly increase the capacity of that laboratory,” Dizon said yesterday.
Galvez said that in giving PCR machines, IATF is considering the critical areas and isolated areas like Bohol.
So far, the IATF had already delivered one for Zamboanga, two sets for Davao, another for Baguio, and will be giving one for GenSan.
Galvez also said that all PCR laboratories will be modernized to speed up the turnaround time of the testing.
“As what we see now, the difficulties is that the turnaround time of our testing is more or less 5-7 days. The delay is giving us difficulty in getting current-time analysis,” according to Galvez.
An automation machine will be provided to modernize the testing laboratory and the IATF’s target is for all laboratories being established now to have PCR machines.
Galvez also thanks the private sectors who provided the PCR machines and said that the national government has sent the C-130 aircraft to get around 20 PCR machines direct from China, of which around 10 will given to government hospitals.
For his part, Yap appreciated the IATF for its support to Bohol as he attributed the successful efforts of keeping the province Covid-free to the teamwork at the Provincial Emergency Management Administration (PEMA).
Yap thanked the Duterte, Galvez, Dizon, Sen. Bong Go, and former DOH sec. Janette Garin for never failing to respond to his text messages even at the wee hours of the night.
“I want to tell the people of Bohol, they are very busy people. You can only imagine what risk they take. The people who never fail to reply to my text messages are these people- -Sec. Vince, Galvez, Sec. Año na kahit 12 midnight magreply pa, and Sen. Bong Go for all his assistance. I’m proud to say a leader cannot stay alone without his team, his people. So sa provincial government, sa PEMA and to all the people who cooperate, especially to our team of medical consultants. Angmga doctors namindito- -private and government- -they are bonding together in the medical cluster of the PEMA. That is also headed by our former provincial administratorAeDamalerio. Anggandang teamwork namindito. They give their analysis and then kami pina-pattern namin yon na protocol nasinusunodnamin,” Yap said.