By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson on Thursday said the three South African nationals and a returning overseas Filipino (ROF) from South Africa who arrived in the province all tested negative for COVID-19.
Lacson confirmed the information in a text message to Daily Guardian.
The three foreigners are consultants of BioPower company in Negros Occidental while the ROF is from Pontevedra town.
The Bureau of Quarantine in Manila accepted them into the country last week before South Africa was included in the red list of the national government.
South Africa was first to report the presence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Experts are still investigating if the new variant is more contagious, can cause severe ailments, or evade vaccine protection.
The four were later re-swabbed to determine if they were infected.
Provincial Inter Agency Task Force action officer Rayfrando Diaz said that they were furnished with the names of the seven Negrenses from South Africa who recently arrived in the country.
“We just hope that they are not carriers of COVID-19 Omicron variant,” Diaz said.
He also confirmed that the three South African consultants of BioPower arrived in Negros Occidental on Nov 25 and 26, before the ban on travelers from South Africa took effect.
He also reported that an ROF from South Africa, who is a resident of Pontevedra, Negros Occidental, also managed to return to the province through an S-PaSS approved by the city government of Bacolod.
Diaz further said that since there is no screening in Bacolod City, he has no idea if that ROF had been issued with a certificate of quarantine.
But he said that the three South Africans, who were reported earlier as ROFs, have presented the required documents, including the approved S-PaSS.
“They don’t have indicators that they came from South Africa and they indicated in their S- PaSS that they came from Makati,” Diaz said.
“The primary duties and obligation to impose ban on travelers from red countries lies on the Bureau of Quarantine,” he pointed out.
The provincial government of Negros Occidental had been criticized on social media for the entry of South Africans in the province, despite its strict implementation of S-PaSS requirements from inbound travelers.
Lacson explained that those inbound travelers from South Africa entered Manila first, and were accepted by the Bureau of Quarantine because South Africa was still under green travel restrictions.
When they applied for S-PaSS for entry to the province, they placed Makati City in Manila as their point of origin.
He also said that it was only on Nov 27 that the ban on travelers from South Africa was ordered.
He added that this also prompted the power company to inform the capitol that the three South Africans were in isolation.