THERE’S a possibility that the Omicron variant of Sars-CoV-2, which causes coronavirus disease (Covid-19), has entered Bacolod City undetected, an official said.

Dr. Chris Sorongon, deputy for data and medical analysis of the Emergency Operations Center-Task Force (EOC-TF), said that a lot of travelers, who came from areas where the Omicron variant was detected like Metro Manila, arrived in Bacolod City, especially after the holidays.

He said that when the first case of Omicron variant was detected in the country, it took Bacolod City two days to amend its rules on presenting negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results upon arrival at the airport and seaports.

But so far, as of January 18, the molecular laboratories in Bacolod City have not sent any specimens for genome sequencing yet, Sorongon also said.

The doctor stressed that it means they are not certain what variants of the disease are prevalent in the city as of the moment.

Based on the data released by the Department of Health (DOH) in Western Visayas, the positivity rate of Bacolod was at 17 percent as of January 18, 2022.

For the same date, its hospital utilization rate was at 47.77 percent, or almost half of the beds intended for Covid-19 patients were occupied.

The highly urbanized city recorded an 891 percent two-week growth rate and almost 10 percent average daily attack rate or the number of new cases in every 100,000 population in the last 14 days.

Lifting RT-PCR test requirement

Despite the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Bacolod, Sorongon said Mayor Evelio Leonardia is set to issue an executive order removing the requirement of presenting a negative RT-PCR test results taken within 72 hours for fully vaccinated travelers from Iloilo province, including its capital.

"Iloilo and Bacolod City are both under Alert Level 3 (in terms of virus transmission) and if you are going to look at it, the increase in Covid-19 cases is also happening in other areas in Western Visayas," Sorongon said.

"We need to balance the health and economy (and) we have to open businesses and transport," he said, adding that the City Government is just reciprocating the policy issued by Iloilo Province in lifting the negative RT-PCR test requirement.

He said there is nothing to worry as the city's border control is in place where there are personnel assigned to check on the vaccination cards of the arriving travelers.

For unvaccinated travelers, the City Government will still need to ask them for a negative RT-PCR test before they will be allowed entry to Bacolod City.