Capitol eases travel restrictions, cites success of vax campaign

Fully-vaccinated travelers from areas with the same Alert Level as Catanduanes or lower can now enter the province by presenting only their vaccination cards, instead of a negative RT-PCR test result.

DR. ROBERT JOHN AQUINO, DOH provincial officer, administers the first dose to the first of 12-to-17 year-olds in Caramoran town during the launching of the Bayanihan Bakunahan National Vaccination Days last Nov. 209, 2021. Witnessing the jab are Gov. Joseph Cua, Mayor Glenda Aguilar, Vice Mayor Chyrrel Barro, PNP Director Col. Brian Castillo and DILG Assistant Regional Director Uldarico Razal Jr. Padaba PIU

Citing the steady decline in the number of positive coronavirus cases and high rate of vaccination in the province, Governor Joseph Cua issued Executive Order No. 043-A last Dec. 3, 2021 amending a provision on intrazonal and interzonal movement in a previous EO.

In the new EO that took effect last Monday, Dec. 6, the entry of Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and Returning Residents coming from areas with the same Alert Level as Catanduanes or lower shall be allowed, subject to approval in the S-PaSS Travel Management System.

Fully-vaccinated individuals shall no longer be required to present a negative RT-PCR or antigen test and, instead, they shall be required to present their vaccination cards or certificates as proof of vaccination for their entry to the province to be granted, the EO stated.

However, partially-vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals shall be required to prevent negative results of either COVID-19 tests valid for three (3) days from date of testing.

It clarified that an individual is considered as fully vaccinated two (2) weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series COVID-19 vaccine, or two (2) weeks after a single-dose vaccine.

An individual is considered as partially-vaccinated if they have received just one dose or if two weeks haven’t passed since their second dose for a 2-dose vaccine or since he or she got their single-dose vaccine.

It may be recalled that recently, Gov. Cua expressed his wish that every Catandunganon family would be able to celebrate Christmas this year, unlike in 2020 when the province was still suffering from the effects of successive typhoons.

Last week also marked the fewest number of new COVID-19 cases in seven months, with just five tallied from Nov. 28 to Dec. 3.

Active cases also plunged to a low of 59 as of Dec. 3, with the bulk concentrated in Pandan (16), Virac (10), Caramoran (10), Gigmoto (10) and Viga (7).

Only two new deaths from coronavirus disease were reported during the same period, compared to eight a week earlier.

According to the Department of Health COVID-19 case tracker as of Dec. 3, Catanduanes’ Average Daily Attack Rate (ADAR) per 100,000 population fell to 2.41, compared to 4.71 a week ago.

As a result, the province is no longer in the top 10 of areas in the country with high ADAR although it had the highest in Bicol region.

Its Bed Occupancy was also at a safe 16.9 percent, with only 13 of 77 COVID-19 beds occupied and none of them in ICU wards.

In the DOH’s monitoring of the National Vaccination Days last Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2021 and the two-day extension until Dec. 3, Catanduanes was tied with Iriga City as far as achieving the total target is concerned.

Both vaccinated 95% of their individual three-day targets, second to Legazpi City’s 203%.

The province’s 33 vaccination teams, including the OVP Vaccine Express, fielded for the campaign inoculated a total of 42,165 people, just over 2,000 short of the target of 44,486.

During the three-day Bakunahan, the teams averaged over 12,000 jabs per day compared to the daily target of 14,828.

Based on the DOH data, five local government units in Catanduanes reached more than 100% of their respective targets: Bato (143%), Bagamanoc (130%), Baras (139%), Gigmoto (141%) and Panganiban (155%).

The capital town of Virac (75%) and San Andres (70%) were the laggards in the vaccination drive while the rest posted satisfactory percentages: Caramoran (83%), Pandan (94%), San Miguel (90%) and Viga (94%).

According to the DOH Bicol Center for Health Development, six (6) out of ten (10) Bicolanos, or almost 2.5 million out of the target 4.3 million, have already received at least one (1) dose of COVID-19 vaccines since the country started its vaccination program in March 2021.

It stated that as of 6 AM of Dec. 2, Catanduanes had already vaccinated 150,407 individuals, which is 78% of its target population to achieve population protection or herd immunity.

Taking the additional 4,126 given their first doses on Dec. 2 and 3, this number rose to 154,533 or 80% of the original target population of 192,829.

With the pediatric population in consideration, this percentage translates to nearly 68% based on the new target population of 228,180.

The vaccination drive of the provincial government particularly awed Vice President Leni Robredo, who cited the huge number of people waiting to be vaccinated.

“Siguro ang ganda ng communications ninyo kasi maraming tao ang pumunta para magpabakuna,” she told Gov. Cua, adding that she was very impressed by the fact that many private and government partners, including student nurses, were helping each other in the effort of the LGUs in the efficient management of the vaccines.

The governor, however, informed the VP that in far-flung places, the LGUs had to provide incentives so that people would come to the vaccination centers.

In a related development, health care workers in the province have started availing of the single COVID-19 booster dose.

The hospital staff of the Eastern Bicol Medical Center were the first to be jabbed with the booster shots last Saturday, 10 days after the booster vaccination of nearly 175,000 individuals from Priority Group A1 began in the Bicol region

The eligible health workers may receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose at least six (6) months after completion of their first and second dose for two doses vaccines, and at least three (3) months after completion of single dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

Health workers are the first group eligible for booster doses because they are the first group who were given with COVID-19 vaccines when the Philippines started its COVID-19 immunization campaign in March 2021. Plans and preparation of Local Government Units (LGUs) for administration of booster doses for other priority group such as senior citizens and persons with other illnesses are on-going. (With a report from DOH Bicol CHD)

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