MANILA - Returning residents in Iloilo City may undergo confirmatory swab tests for free, its mayor said Tuesday as the city's healthcare utilization nears moderate risk.
RT-PCR tests are also free for symptomatic patients and close contacts of COVID-19 cases, Mayor Jerry Treñas said.
"We did away with the requirement of a negative RT-PCR for residents coming in...We found out to get an RT-PCR test in NCR (National Capital Region) costs a lot, and sometimes the results come out more than 72 hours after you were swabbed. So many passengers resorted to fake RT-PCR tests," he told ANC's Headstart.
"We only require passengers coming in to have swab tests here in Iloilo City for free... We're the cheapest in the country. We’re only charging P800 for RT-PCR test."
The city's COVID-19 bed occupancy is currently at 65.79 percent, down from more than 70 percent, and its intensive care unit utilization rate was at 61.45 percent, the mayor said.
"Iloilo City is a regional center. Most of the provinces send their severe and moderate cases here in the city so much so that 50 percent of our beds and ICU were coming from the provinces," he said.
Treñas said he has signed an ordinance limiting the movement of unvaccinated individuals to acquiring essential goods and services, which will be enforced if the city was under Alert Level 3 and 4.
The city has so far fully vaccinated "139 percent" of its target population, the mayor said.
"Ang ordinansa (The ordinance) will not allow the unvaccinated to get out of their houses unless for specific reasons—essential, they have to work, if they have to procure their needs for food, medicine, it will still allow them to use public transport in cases that are essential for themselves," he said.
"In case Iloilo City goes down to Alert Level 2, this ordinance becomes inoperative."
The mayor also said he has prohibited persons who have yet to receive booster shots from entering the City Hall.
"That’s one of the measures we placed in Iloilo City just to encourage people to get boosters. I think it has helped, we have also found even those who had boosters were infected and fortunately for them, most if not all of them were asymptomatic and very few had mild cases," he said.