Stranded individuals barred from cities of Cebu, Talisay

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 20) — Locally stranded individuals have been disallowed to go in or out of the cities of Cebu and Talisay in Cebu province that follow different community quarantine restrictions.

“As per instruction of SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government) Eduardo Año, the movement of LSIs coming from or going to ECQ and MECQ areas will not be allowed temporarily,” PLt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Philippine National Police's Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said in a statement on Saturday.

All police commanders across the country have been ordered to temporarily suspend the issuance of travel authority passes for people wanting to go to Cebu City and Talisay City. Authorities in the two cities have also been told not to allow stranded travelers from leaving.

Eleazar said the move was made to give local officials ample time to contain the spread of the coronavirus in their areas.

Cebu City was placed under enhanced community quarantine while Talisay City was put under modified enhanced community quarantine by national health officials wary of the surge in coronavirus infections and community transmission in the two cities.

Local officials have appealed for a more relaxed classification, with Talisay Mayor Samsam Gullas saying the national government had incorrect data.

According to the Department of Health's tracker, Cebu City has a total of 3,317 confirmed COVID-19 cases while Talisay City has 147, with Mayor Gullas noting that only 70 are active cases since 53 have recovered and 24 had died.

In other places around the country, either a more relaxed general community quarantine or modified GCQ is in place.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online media briefing on Saturday that officials are working on a more concrete strategy and protocol for locally stranded individuals. He said they can all undergo RT-PCR testing once more test kits arrive.

Under the current rules, returning individuals are required to undergo RT-PCR testing upon arriving in their hometowns, Roque said. Those who test negative can immediately go home, while those diagnosed with the viral illness have to be isolated and treated.

When the local government unit has no testing capability, the traveler needs to undergo quarantine first, he said.

Roque said this strategy was discussed Friday in the inter-agency task force meeting and it was agreed that once the PCR testing kits arrive, locally stranded individuals can have PCR testing.

READ: Arriving COVID-19 test kits can test almost 10 million people – Galvez

Lawmakers from Eastern Visayas are seeking a review of the national government's "Hatid Probinsya" program, noting that the region had been coronavirus-free until a resident returned to Catarman, Northern Samar from San Juan City.

A number of locally stranded individuals tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning to their hometowns, with some even testing negative in tests they had before taking trips home.

READ: 13,000 locally-stranded individuals in Luzon await transport to Visayas, Mindanao