THE Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases temporarily suspended the program sending locally stranded individuals to Western Visayas (Region 6), Iligan City, and Lanao del Sur from September 7 to 21, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.
The IATF on Monday night initially released Joint Resolution 69 that suspended the LSI dispatch to the said areas from September 8 to 30.
Roque said the IATF decision was in response to the request of the local government units from Region VI, Iligan, and Lanao del Sur to suspend the inbound travel of LSIs.
Iligan City and Lanao del Sur, along with Bacolod City, are under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until September 30.
Presidential Management Staff assistant secretary and Hatid Tulong initiative convenor Joseph Encabo last week said they had temporarily stopped sending LSIs to Eastern Visayas, Romblon and Masbate because the quarantine facilities of the LGUs in those areas are close to full capacity.
Encabo said there are still more than 250 LSIs in Metro Manila waiting to be transported to their provinces.
Joint Task Force COVID Shield chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the task force will improve coordination with receiving LGUs in the transport of LSIs, especially from Metro Manila.
Eleazar acknowledged the uncoordinated return of the LSIs had caught the receiving LGUs by surprise, leading to a shortage of quarantine facilities and medical personnel who would attend to people who tested positive for COVID-19.
“The lack of prior coordination with the receiving LGUs also results in the unavailability of the quarantine facilities to accommodate them, or lack of health facilities to those who would test positive for coronavirus,” said Eleazar.
Elazar said they have received request from LGUs to control the issuance of travel authority “because they are already lacking quarantine facilities and health workers due to the influx arriving LSIs.” – With Victor Reyes