DOH says surge in COVID-19 cases can't be blamed on return of former LSIs

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2020 06:55 PM | Updated as of Jun 30 2020 07:31 PM

Stranded passengers wait outside the North Port Passenger Terminal in Tondo, Manila for their scheduled departure on Monday early morning. Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday the return of previously stranded individuals to their home provinces couldn't be blamed for the spike of COVID-19 cases in the countryside.

In an online press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said stranded individuals secure certification from government before they could return home.

"Ibig sabihin, maingat po ang pag-screen natin sa ating mga LSIs (locally stranded individuals) dahil nga po, iniiwasan natin na sila ang maging sanhi ng pagkalat ng COVID-19 sa isang lugar," she said.

According to guidelines set by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, LSIs who wish to return home need to get a health certificate and travel permit/pass from the health office and police, respectively, where they are stranded.

Stranded individuals are only issued certification, which is the requirement of the "receiving" local government units, if they are not suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases, Vergeire said.

They must also undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival at their respective localities, she added.

If some stranded individuals were sick with COVID-19 and had recovered from the disease, they are only allowed to go home if they are not exhibiting any symptoms.

"Marami pong factors ang puwede nating i-consider kung bakit tumataas ang kaso sa ilang probinsiya. Hindi natin masasabi as a matter of fact na LSIs ang dahilan ng pagtaas ng datos," Vergeire said.

Assistant Secretary Joseph Encabo of the Presidential Management Staff earlier said the government’s Hatid Tulong program had so far helped transport around 54,000 stranded individuals back to their home provinces.

“We still have a pending 13,000 LSIs that we're about to assist,” he told ANC’s Matters of Fact on June 26.

The Hatid Tulong initiative is a transportation assistance program intended to help stranded people affected by the COVID-19 lockdown to return to their home provinces, Encabo said.

To date, the Philippines has recorded 37,514 coronavirus infections, of whom 1,266 have died while 10,233 have recovered.