TAGBILARAN CITY – The impressive management against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) situation in Bohol has won the nod of the national government to make the province one of the models for the reopening of Philippine tourism and stirring back the economy.
National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and deputy chief implementer Vivencio Dizon announced this when they visited Bohol on Saturday to deliver the first polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine for the molecular laboratory of the Gov. Celestino Gallares Hospital (GCGMH).
The reopening is targeted at 25 percent of the business by July, while the remaining percentage in the next months when Bohol can absorb the capacity to react for full-blown business operations, Galvez said.
Galvez said the steps would be delicated for high-risk industries, such as tourism and travel, which are labeled at level 4 category.
Considering that tourism is one of the primary sources of livelihood of the people, the national government will explore how it can reopen a new avenue for the tourism industry with Bohol and Baguio as models of the new face of the economy under the “new normal”, he said.
Reopening would be gradual that will start with local tourism for the meantime, considering that there is no vaccine against the coronavirus yet.
As proposed by President Rodrigo Duterte, there will be a simulation of business reopening in June after putting in place new protocols.
Galvez estimated that by the first day of the month, the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) may be declared here as a signal to a new normal.
“Influx of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) will be there. But we can have the opportunities that our resorts will be converted into quarantine areas. At least kumita (earning) because they will be paid by OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration),” he said.
Galvez assured that President Duterte will “always help” Bohol in giving back jobs to those who had lost them due to Covid-19 health crisis.
The PCR machine arrived in just a week since Governor Arthur Yap requested it from the NTF, and 980 complete Level 4 personal protective equipment (PPE) sets for Bohol were flown here by Galvez and Dizon.
Meanwhile, Galvez and Dizon were accompanied by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Assistant Secretary Wilben Mayor and Department of Health (DOH) director for Health Emergency Management Bureau Gloria Balboa.
The two key officials in Covid-19 battle also inspected the Bohol-Panglao International Airport area where the second molecular laboratory is eyed to be installed as a requirement for all international airports in the country amid the new normal in travel.
“Sagot po sa mga dasal namin na dumating kaagad. Isang linggo ko lang tong tinawag kay (It’s an answered prayer that they were delivered so quick. In just a week after calling) Secretary Vince and he did everything that he could. And, also former DOH Secretary Janette Garin, thank you,” Yap said.
Yap said what the provincial government will have to do now is to “ramp up and prepare the Gallares Hospital to receive this” in addition to the existing PCR machine owned by the hospital.
“We will also establish another offsite laboratory outside of Panglao and Tagbilaran City. Thank you for announcing as well that there would be additional PCR machines here. Aside from the arrivals, we also have domestic sea travelers. Thank you for announcing and choosing Bohol as one of those premier candidate destinations na uunahin sa pagbukas (to be opened first), pending, of course, following certain key protocols,” Yap told the visiting officials.
Galvez lauded Yap’s strong leadership for keeping Bohol safe during the Covid pandemic.
To date, with one recovered coronavirus-positive patient and three patients recovering in Cebu, Bohol has now returned to being Covid-free, he said.
Galvez also said he is thankful that Bohol has “never been a headache” to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF).
“I really wanted to convey my congratulations to the governor kasi talagang nakita natin napaka-strange, tinatawag nating extraordinary ang nagawa ni governor na naging Covid-free ang (because we can really see how strange, we call it extraordinary, the actions of the governor in making Covid-free) Bohol for so long a time,” Galvez said.
Galvez said the strict protocols being followed in Bohol helped preserve the province from local transmission. (IA/PNA)