ONLY locally stranded individuals (LSIs) who have tested negative in rapid COVID-19 tests will be sent back to their provinces under the “Hatid Tulong” program of the government.
Once there, they will still be subjected to swab testing and quarantine.
Presidential Management Staff assistant secretary and Hatid Tulong project officer in charge Joseph Encabo said these were the recommendations of the Hatid Tulong technical working group that was approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force.
Encabo, during a networking briefing, said the Department of interior and Local Government will coordinate with local government units to ensure the LSIs would be accepted in their jurisdictions and subjected to a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reactor (RT-PCR) and required to under quarantine before they are allowed to return to their home.
“The medical protocols were revised. The IATF allowed the use of the rapid test and DILG will coordinate with the LGUs for the arrival of the LSI, and the conduct of the swab test and 14 day-quarantine there,” he said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, in a briefing in Malacanang, confirmed the new protocols for LSIs.
With the new protocols in place, Encabo said the government will be able to proceed with the dispatch of LSIs on July 4 and 5 to various provinces. More than 4,000 LSIs bound for Mindanao and Northern Luzon are scheduled to travel this weekend but the government expects the number to rise to 7,000 to 9,000.
Encabo apologized to LSIs whose scheduled departure for Aklan, Iloilo and other provinces in Western Visayas (region 6), Eastern Visayas (region 8) and the Caraga were held up because isolation and quarantine facilities in their destinations are filled up.
He said there would be an assessment after two weeks to determine if the moratorium can be lifted.