Doctors warn against relaxing entry protocols

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Doctors warn against relaxing entry protocols

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NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.

While cases of Covid 19 are rising in some key cities, two medical groups yesterday issued a stern warning against relaxing health protocols on the entry of Boholanos especially with the onset of the Christmas break.

Testing protocols for APORs, LSIs and OFWs have been relaxed and this will increase the likelihood of imported cases and subsequent spread into the community, according to  Dr. Jefferson H. Ong and Dr. Kazan S. Baluyot, president of the Bohol Medical Society and the Philippine College of Physicians (Bohol Chapter), respectively.

In a joint statement sent to the Chronicle just before deadline yesterday, the two medical societies hit the “unreliability of the 72-hour pre-departure testing  as many of those, upon retesting on arrival, have turned out Covid-19 positive.

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They said that this is “even more dangerous with those who may enter the province without prior testing.”

“It would take only one unidentified active case to begin a nightmarish scenario of an uncontrolled outbreak,” the doctors’ statement said.

Because of this relaxed health protocol on the entry of Boholanos copying other places in the country, the medical societies recommended that LGUs receiving APORs or returning Bohol residents (OFWs, LSIs and ROFs) should adhere strictly to the protocols which have been proven effective as formulated and implemented by the Bohol Inter Agency Task Force (BIATF) medical cluster.

The doctors insist that the 14-day quarantine remains the most reliable and effective measure with or without RT-PCR testing for all persons arriving from other provinces or countries.

In their fight against relaxing protocols, the doctors groups said “home quarantine” is not recommended unless deemed necessary and fulfills all the requirements in the guidelines for home quarantine facilities. 

They asked health authorities that “no compromise should be allowed when implementing this quarantine option as it is “prone to abuse and violation.”

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The doctors likewise asked that large group of more than 10 from different households should continue to be discouraged as these can easily be venues for the rapid spread of the virus. 

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“The community should be patient a little longer” stating that the “sacrifices made in the past several months will only be justified if we hold on till the end.”

NO MORE BIATF CLEARANCE FOR  LSIs, APOR

As Bohol inches forward, towards the new normal, entry to the province starting December 1 no longer needs a clearance from the Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF)

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This relaxing of health protocols is strongly objected by the Bohol Medical Socety and the Phil. College of Physoicians- Bohol Chapter. (Read Separate story)

The Executive Order 54 of Gov. Art Yap repeals the requirement for any passenger or traveler to obtain clearance from the Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF).

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However, this only applies to locally stranded individuals (LSIs), authorized persons outside of residence (APORs), returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Tourism-related travels shall be governed by a separate issuance that the governor will issue.

The APORs include health and emergency frontline service personnel, APORs who are government officials and government frontline personnel, persons traveling for medical reasons, persons traveling for humanitarian reasons, persons traveling to Bohol for permitted work, owners of business establishments permitted to operate in Bohol- -including going back home, persons traveling to Bohol for connecting flights abroad, other professionals in permitted professions,

Under Yap’s EO 54, each of them are required to present a certificate of confirmation from the receiving LGU, and confirmed plane or boat ticket.

For LSIs, the additional document required is a PNP JTF Covid Shield Travel Authority.

For health and emergency frontline service personnel, the additional requirement is either a PRC license or official identification card (ID) or hospital identification card, or any proof of their occupation.

For government officials and government frontline personnel, the additional document required is an official ID of their office.

For persons traveling for medical reasons, the additional documents required are certificate from the local chief executive of the LGU having jurisdiction over his or her residence, and a medical certificate.

For persons traveling for humanitarian reasons, the additional document required is a certificate from the local chief executive of the LGU having jurisdiction over his or her residence.

For persons traveling to Bohol for permitted work, the additional documents required are company ID, and certificate of employment from their employer stating that they are still connected with the company.

For owners of business establishments permitted to operate in Bohol- -including going back home, the additional document required is a certificate from the local chief executive of the LGU having jurisdiction over his or her residence.

For persons traveling to Bohol for connecting flights abroad, the additional document required is a confirmed plane tickets and proof of their residence or work abroad.

For other professionals in permitted professions, the additional documents required are proof of their profession, and a document reflecting the purpose of their travel.

For OFWs, the additional document required is an appropriate identification as OFW and/or a certificate from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

For ROFs, the additional document required is any proof of residence.

Also in EO 54, all domestic commercial flights shall be allowed subject to the condition that they will only transport LSIs, ROFs, and APORs with complete travel documents required.

Every passenger or traveler shall only coordinate with the component city or municipality for the issuance of the corresponding certificate of confirmation subject to their respective quarantine and testing protocols.

Persons with incomplete documents shall not be allowed to board the aircraft.

For domestic flights, all aircraft carrier operators whose aircraft carriers will land in Bohol are required to observe the following protocols: all operators of domestic aircraft carriers transporting persons to the Province of Bohol shall make available, hand sanitizers and other disinfectants at conspicuous places like check-in counters for passengers; and protective face masks shall also be provided when needed;

During check-in, they shall then submit themselves for temperature checking using a thermal gun.

Other visible symptoms such as, but not limited to, fever, cough, colds body weakness, and difficulty in breathing shall also be checked.

Passengers showing such symptoms shall not be allowed to board the aircraft carrier bound for Bohol.

While en route to Bohol, passengers shall be required to fill up a Passenger Personal Health Declaration Form (PPHDF).

The accomplished PPHDF shall be collected in-flight by designated airline personnel and turned over to the Department of Health and the Bureau of Quarantine in Bohol.

No person shall be allowed to deplane until after submitting a PPHDF.

If during the flight, a passenger becomes symptomatic of the Covid-19, he or she shall be isolated during the flight at the tail end of the aircraft.

Upon arrival in Bohol, he or she shall be accompanied to the designated holding areas by ground personnel and turned over to the BoQ for assessment.

The symptomatic person shall deplane last.

No passenger shall be allowed to leave the airport premises without being received by the corresponding extracting team from the receiving LGU or accredited accommodation facilities.

The aircraft operator shall submit regular report to the Provincial Government of Bohol reflecting the number of persons entering Bohol with the dates of entry and exit to the province.

EO 54 also provides for specific sea travel protocols where public marine transportation shall operate within the MGCQ zone in accordance with Marina Advisory 2020-29 dated April 30, 2020 entitled “Guidelines on the resumption of operation of passenger ships in areas under GCQ and ECQ, and such other guidelines issued by the DOTr and/or Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

In line with this, passenger vessels and ferry operators shall observe the following protocols: observe the list of routes and their corresponding rates prescribed by the MARINA; shall only be allowed to carry 50 percent of their regular on-board capacity provided that passengers shall, at all times during the voyage, observe the one-meter-distance physical distance requirement which will be ensured by placing visible markings drawn or installed where passengers and crew sit, gather, and converge; upon check-in, passengers shall submit themselves for temperature checking using the using a thermal gun.

Other visible symptoms such as, but not limited to, fever, cough, colds body weakness, and difficulty in breathing shall also be checked.

Passengers showing such symptoms shall not be allowed to board the passenger vessel.

All passenger vessels and ferry operators ferrying passengers shall provide their each passenger with a Passenger Personal Health Declaration Form (PPHDF). All passengers must fill up their PPHDFs.

The accomplished PPHDF shall be collected by designated passenger vessel personnel and turned over to the Department of Health.

Hand sanitizers and other disinfectants shall be made available to passengers at all times.

Disinfecting footbath shall be provided in all entry and exit access points of the vessel for passengers and crew.

All crew members and passengers are required to wear facemasks at all times and persons without facemasks shall not be allowed to embark the vessel.

Passengers that show symptoms of Covid-19 while in transit shall be isolated in the identified isolation area of the vessel and will then be turned over to the municipal or city health officer of the LGU of destination. 

No passenger shall be allowed to leave the seaport premises without being received by the corresponding extracting team from the receiving LGU or accredited accommodation facilities. 

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