PHO suspects new cases due to relaxed travel policy

By July 13, 2021Inside News


THE Provincial Health Office logged a surge of COVID-19 cases in the province since the first week of July, after two weeks of a downtrend in confirmed cases and more recovered cases.

Dr. Anna de Guzman, provincial health officer, said she suspects that the new spike may be linked to relaxed travel restrictions that enable undetected virus carriers from other provinces to easily enter provincial boundaries.

De Guzman said the influx of visitors to Pangasinan was noted when presentation of medical certificates is no longer required since entry to the province has been marked as ‘Restricted’ by the National IATF, through the DOST-developed Safe, Swift and Smart Passage (S-PASS).

A ‘Restricted’ label means a “Travel Coordination Permit” (TCP) is required and the simple submission of data and documents through S-PASS makes it easy for anyone to enter the province.

Presently, S-PASS only requires returning residents of Pangasinan, non-government APORs, and tourists coming from the NCR Plus bubble to submit a negative RT-PCR Test result obtained within 72 hours from date of arrival.

Dr. Anna de Guzman, provincial health officer, admitted that COVID-19 cases spiraled in the province lately which she blamed on the relaxation of travel restrictions in border checkpoints.

De Guzman said those entering the province are no longer required to secure a health certificate so long as they can present an “S” pass and in securing the same, it is not a bit strict.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were reports that Governor Amado Espino  III is likely set to issue a new executive order that seeks to require any visitor to Pangasinan to produce a medical certificate indicating his/her health status without which the entry of the visitor may be denied.

Meanwhile, travelers from GCQ (without restrictions) or MGCQ areas outside Pangasinan, are only required to submit a valid or government-issued ID, and proof of residence in a GCQ/MGCQ area.

Meanwhile, De Guzman categorically denied claims and speculations that the Delta variant is the cause of the increase in cases in the province.

“There are no Delta variant cases in Pangasinan and there has been no advisory about the presence of it in the country from DOH or the Genome Center”, she said.

Aside from eased travel restrictions, De Guzman also observed that more people have become very complacent in complying with the health and distancing protocols, especially in remote and/or interior barangays.

However, the increased record in COVID-19 cases can be interpreted to mean that local government units are more efficient in their contact-tracing efforts. (Leonardo Micua/Ahikam Pasion)

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