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Ormoc imposes stricter border control to avert spread of COVID-19

ORMOC CITY – This city is imposing stricter border controls with the aim of preventing the possible spread of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as outlined in Executive Order No. 27, an “executive order regulating the entry of individuals coming to Ormoc via land and sea travel and imposing added measures towards the prevention of COVID-19” released to the public on Sunday, March 15.

The EO comes in the light of rising COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, which has reached 111 confirmed cases and 8 deaths as of March 14, Saturday, and following the March 12 televised announcement of a Resolution by President Rodrigo Duterte himself imposing a “community quarantine” of Metro Manila for 30 days until April 14, 2020 and raising the country’s COVID-19 alert to Code Red Sub-Level 2.

This is in light, too, of the President declaring a “state of public health emergency” on Monday, March 9, through Presidential Proclamation No. 922.

Mayor Richard Gomez’ EO, meanwhile, justifies that “there is an urgent need to limit the movement of individuals and strictly regulate the number of people going inside Ormoc to lessen the exposure to risks associated with the COVID-19”.

EO 27 specifically outlines the following prohibitions:

1. The entry of all persons coming to Ormoc by land travel shall be prohibited, EXCEPT in the following instances AND under specific conditions:
a. Residents of Ormoc coming in from work outside of Ormoc, PROVIDED that proof of employment outside Ormoc and proof of residency in Ormoc is presented at the checkpoint, i.e. Barangay certification, government issued card showing Ormoc home address.
b. Residents of Ormoc coming in from areas outside of Ormoc, PROVIDED that proof of residency is presented at the checkpoint, i.e. Barangay certification, government issued card showing Ormoc home address.
In the instances mentioned above, that individuals coming from areas with known PUI cases shall be considered as PERSONS UNDER MONITORING (PUM) and shall be required to:
a.1. Register with their respective Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHRET);
a.2. Comply with all the directives of the health authorities pertaining to quarantine and other precautionary measures.
c. Residents of areas outside Ormoc, who have work / employment / school in Ormoc, PROVIDED that company / work / school identification cards are presented at the checkpoint OR certification of employment issued by the employer which shall state the place of work and residence.
d. Cane workers, laborers, construction workers and like individuals, PROVIDED that a certification of employment is issued which shall state the place of work is stated. The certification should be in the possession of the driver who can attest to the identity of the workers on board.
e. Self- employed workers residing outside Ormoc but with business in Ormoc, PROVIDED that proof of business / economic activity in Ormoc is presented at the checkpoint.
f. Patients and their drivers who need emergency / urgent surgical intervention, depending on the assessment of the personnel manning the checkpoint. Companions shall not be allowed.
g. Patients who are scheduled for dialysis treatments and cardiac cases who do not exhibit flu-like symptoms, PROVIDED that a medication certification attesting to the treatment is presented. Companions shall not be allowed.
h. Passengers of shipping lines from Ormoc on the same day of departure, not earlier than two (2) hours from the estimated time departure, PROVIDED that tickets are presented at the checkpoint.
i. Vehicles bringing in any of the foregoing persons.
j. Vehicles delivering / bringing in supplies and goods to or through Ormoc, PROVIDED that delivery receipts / vouchers showing place of delivery in Ormoc or to another place near Ormoc, are presented at the checkpoint.

2. The entry of passengers of ships / vessels from domestic seaports shall not be allowed entry EXCEPT for cargoes and items which may be unloaded, PROVIDED that delivery receipts / vouchers showing place of delivery in Ormoc or to another place near Ormoc, are presented at the port area. The crewmembers of these ships and vessels coming in shall be subject to STRICT QUARANTINE PROCEDURES.

3. Public utility vehicles licensed to operate in Ormoc shall remain functional within Ormoc.

4. The Philippine National Police shall be primarily responsible in the enforcement of this Order in the thoroughfares in the boundaries of Ormoc.

5. Retail and service establishments are advised to remain open and STRICTLY IMPLEMENT social distancing measures.

6. Internet cafes, movie houses, computer gaming cafes, pisonets and singkonets and similar establishments shall not be allowed to admit minors for the duration of this Executive Order.

7. The foregoing shall take effect at six in the evening (6PM) of March 15, 2020 and shall continue to be in force and effect until twelve midnight (12MN) of March 31, 2020, subject to continuing evaluation and assessment.

8. Classes in all levels in Ormoc, including vocational and training schools, shall be SUSPENDED from March 16 to 20, 2020.

9. The Ormoc City Media Center shall be charged with the widest possible dissemination of this Order.

Other EOs

Prior EO 27, LGU-Ormoc led by Mayor Richard Gomez has been meeting almost every day to assess the city’s COVID-19 “situation”. On Monday, March 9, issued Executive Order No. 19 creating the city’s COVID-19 Task Force, who is a body tasked to implement “aggressive measures and efforts towards prevention and monitoring” of COVID-19 in Ormoc.

A few days later, he issued Executive Order No. 21, which prescribes “guidelines for the prevention, containment, contact-tracing and measures against the COVID-19”, followed by Executive Order No. 24, now directed to LGU-Ormoc employees, prescribing “guidelines for a four-day workweek for employees of the local government unit of Ormoc for the duration of the state of public health emergency”.

Mayor Richard Gomez also executed EO 26 on March 14, Saturday, prescribing “additional guidelines for the prevention and containment of the COVID-19”. It states that starting March 14, 2020, Lake Danao and the Ormoc Museum are temporarily closed; that minors are strongly urged not to loiter beyond school premises and their houses once classes resume; that Senior Citizens and individuals with serious chronic medical conditions (with heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are strongly urged to stay at home to reduce the risk of getting sick with the COVID-19; and that religious organizations and sects and churches are “asked to adjust schedules of masses and the like and other religious activities to the end that social distancing is observed, defined as the strict implementation of a distance of one (1) meter radius between and among those attending, is maintained during the entirety of the event”.

DepEd’s Action Plan

Meanwhile, an official statement from the Department of Education (DepEd) states that “all scheduled National and Regional events involving students from different localities such as Palaro and Regional meets, including Eastern Visayas Regional Athletic Association (EVRAA), are suspended” and that all graduation rites for public or private schools are on hold since these events create a big crowd until further notice, while no cancellation of city fiesta activities this June has been announced, except for the Piña Festival being moved to October, during Ormoc’s Charter Day celebration.

No ‘panic buying’ in Ormoc

In addition, despite all these changes to an ordinary Ormocanon’s day-to-day life, the groceries and pharmacies that the EV Mail was able to interview confirm that there is no ‘panic buying’ of goods being experienced, but accordingly, there is already a limit of 2-3 bottles of alcohol per purchase.

Malls, on the other hand, are now minimizing their mall hours than usual; and infrared thermal guns are now being used before letting customers into the mall. Customers, too, are encouraged to sanitize their hands using the mall-provided alcohol at the entrance.

In Baybay City

In Baybay City, Mayor Jose Carlos Cari has also issued his own Executive Order No. 49 on March 13, Friday, and is effective immediately, requiring “all Baybayanons, Barangay Local Government Units, National Government Offices / Organizations, Educational Institutions, Churches of Different Faith and Denominations and Business Establishments to Take Precautionary Measures to Avert the Spread of COVID-19 in the City of Baybay”.

Per the said EO 49, schools are to be sanitized and examinations to be done on March 16 and 17; government personnel are to cancel all travels outside the city of Baybay; hotels, restaurants and other business establishments must be “business as usual but the management must screen guests and those who are sick must immediately be sent either home or to the hospital”; public dance, cockfighting and similar activities with large crowds are “prohibited effective immediately until further notice”; and, finally, transport groups are mandated to “disinfect daily possible infected surfaces of their vehicles”.

EV remains free of COVID-19

As a whole, however, per the regional office of the Department of Health (DOH-8), Eastern Visayas remains free from the dreaded COVID-19 as of Friday, March 13.

According to DOH-8, the region has 7 Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) but only 3 are admitted in the referral hospital, while 4 of them are under home quarantine. 

DOH-8 regional director Minerva Molon said that there is a high possibility of local transmission of the disease in the region considering that it is the gateway to Visayas and Mindanao, however, she maintained that DOH is doing all its efforts to contain the transmission.

“We have distributed flyers for passengers flying in from Metro Manila on what they should do. When they go to the community, we tasked the barangays to reiterate these instructions and for the local government units (LGUs) to monitor them,” she shared.

She added that 80 percent of the barangays in the region has been trained to respond for any eventuality relative to COVID-19.

DOH has also recorded 23 Patients Under Monitoring (PUMs) wherein 9 of which are from Leyte province, 5 from Tacloban City, 2 from Biliran province, Southern Leyte, and Northern Samar, while Ormoc City, the provinces of Samar and Eastern Samar have one each. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic with the increase of cases in Iran, Italy and other parts of the world. By Mary Ann Reusora & Marie Tonette Marticio

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