Regional task force OKs LSI travel ban to N. Samar, Biliran until end-July

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 12)— Local officials have approved a resolution extending the ban on the return of locally stranded individuals to the provinces of Biliran and Northern Samar until the end of July.

In a joint resolution dated July 10 and released to the public on Saturday, the COVID-19 regional task forces in the Eastern Visayas region have approved the request of the two provinces to extend the moratorium until July 31, with the local governments citing limited resources and quarantine capacity for returning residents.

The two LGUs likewise pointed out the lack of Level-3 hospitals in their respective communities, limited healthcare capacity and medical supplies, as well as fewer healthcare workers and frontliners are hampering efforts to battle the pandemic.

“The local health care system would be easily overwhelmed in the event of a surge of COVID-19 patients,” the LGUs argued.

The move, however, would still need to earn a green light from the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force.

The provincial government of Northern Samar said it will still welcome LSIs while authorities await the IATF’s decision.

“While we wait for the decision of the NIATF, we will allow documented locally stranded individuals to enter and return to our province,” Governor Edwin Ongchuan posted on his Facebook page.

As of July 12, Biliran and Northern Samar have each logged 22 cases of the infectious disease. Majority of the confirmed infections involving LSIs.

The temporary suspension of LSIs’ return to the region started on June 28, with local governments seeking two-week travel intervals to replenish supplies and prepare quarantine facilities.

To date, COVID-19 infections in the country have reached over 54,000.

Stringer Wilmark Amazona contributed to this report.