NegOcc, Bacolod agree to lift RT-PCR test requirement by Feb. 1

UNIFIED TRAVEL POLICIES. Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia (left) holds a virtual meeting with Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson on Friday afternoon (Jan. 28, 2022) to discuss harmonized Covid-19 travel policies. Starting February 1, the province and the capital city will just require inbound travelers from Manila to present a certified negative rapid antigen test result instead of undergoing a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction procedure.(Photo courtesy of Bacolod City PIO)

BACOLOD CITY – The Negros Occidental provincial government has agreed to the request of this capital city to scrap the required negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result for inbound travelers, particularly those coming from Manila, effective February 1.

Instead, arriving passengers will be asked to present a negative result of a rapid antigen test (RAT) certified only by an accredited Department of Health clinic or laboratory within 48 hours before their travel schedule.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Mayor Evelio Leonardia, together with the city and municipal mayors of Negros Occidental, reached the agreement in a virtual meeting held on Friday afternoon.

“I thank Governor Lacson for hearing out and acting favorably on Bacolod's request to lift the negative RT-PCR requirement,” Leonardia said in a statement.

Em Legaspi-Ang, executive director of Bacolod City Emergency Operations Center Task Force, who presented the city government’s proposal, said all passengers coming from outside Western Visayas and Negros Oriental are required to present a negative RAT result, regardless of their coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination status.

In a statement on Friday night, Lacson confirmed the provincial government acceded to the request of Bacolod to allow the use of RAT as a substitute for the RT-PCR test.

He said while both tests are acceptable, the RT-PCR test is valid within 72 hours from swab sample extraction while RAT is valid for only 48 hours.

Lacson added the provincial government is willing to conduct an antigen test for Bacolod-bound travelers for free upon arrival “to ensure the authenticity of RAT result and for the safety of everybody”.

The meeting was held after Leonardia sent a letter to Lacson on January 24, requesting a discussion on how the province and the city can coordinate and harmonize their respective travel guidelines for the safety, ease, and convenience of their constituents.

The city government scrapped the negative RT-PCR test requirement for inbound travel starting January 23 while the province still requires it, including from Bacolod-bound travelers, who land at the Bacolod-Silay Airport in Silay City, which is under the jurisdiction of Negros Occidental.

In the letter, Leonardia pointed out that molecular laboratories or clinics cannot guarantee the passengers that their results will be out in time for their flight schedule and that RT-PCR test costs more compared to the RAT procedure.

Both Negros Occidental and Bacolod City are under Alert Level 3 until January 31. (PNA)

Source: Business Diary Philippines

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