JTF Covid Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar. (File photo)

MANILA – The Joint Task Force Covid Shield (JTF CV Shield) on Thursday suspended the issuance of travel authority for locally stranded individuals (LSIs) bound for Eastern Visayas provinces.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, task force commander, said this is upon the order of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año approving the request made by local chief executives in the region.

“According to our SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government) Año, the isolation facilities of these local government units (LGUs) are still full and they want to unclog these facilities first before they accept new batches of LSIs,” Eleazar said in a statement.

Eleazar said all chiefs of police and station commanders and the Directorate for Operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were advised to inform LSIs of the measure.

Officials of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 earlier visited Eastern Visayas and met with local officials to discuss concerns and map out strategies to address the rising number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infection in the region.

“Our local chief executives said that if they continue accepting LSIs, they will no longer have enough quarantine facilities to accommodate the arriving LSIs. And since our local chief executives do not want home quarantine, they decided and requested that the best way to address the problem is to suspend the travel of the LSIs to the region for two weeks,” said Eleazar.

LGUs have been implementing their respective quarantine protocols for the arriving LSIs to protect their respective constituents from the coronavirus which might have been carried by asymptomatic LSIs.

Part of the local protocols is for the LSIs to be quarantined in isolation facilities designated by the LGUs before they are allowed to join their respective families.

Eleazar said they will wait for the advice of the NTF Against Covid-19 as to when LSIs would again be allowed to travel to Eastern Visayas before resuming the issuance of travel authority.

Eastern Visayas, which consists of the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Biliran, has so far recorded a total of 431 cases of Covid-19 with 392 active cases. (PNA)