THE Provincial Government of Negros Occidental and Bacolod City are beefing up health protocols at the airport and seaports for the expected influx of passengers for the coming MassKara Festival.

Dr. Ernell Tumimbang, provincial health officer, said Bacolod City has already assigned medical technologists at the Bacolod-Silay Airport to administer the rapid antigen tests (RAT) on the arriving passengers despite the drop in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases.

Tumimbang said RAT is still conducted at the airport for arriving passengers with no vaccination cards, unvaccinated and those traveling with Covid-19 symptoms.

The same is being done by medical technologists from Bacolod for the city's residents arriving at the airport, he said.

Tumimbang also said that although Bredco Port is within the jurisdiction of Bacolod, the province will also deploy its personnel to conduct the RAT for unvaccinated passengers arriving during the MassKara Festival especially those whose residences are outside the highly-urbanized city.

“Bacolod City and the province have agreed on the protocols for the MassKara Celebration," Tumimbang said.

Meanwhile, Tumimbang said the provincial government will have to make the decision about the request of the Progressive Alliance of Capitol Employees (Pace) to Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson to provide health benefits for employees of Negros Occidental.

Pace is asking for health, hospitalization and health care insurance benefits for the officials and employees of the provincial government citing Supreme Court case in September 2010 where the provincial government won the case against the Commission on Audit (COA) where it sustained the payment of the hospitalization and health care insurance of its officials and employees.

They are also asking coverage of the Negros Occidental Comprehensive Integrated Health Program (NOCHIP) and free medical and hospitalization services in all district and provincial hospitals of all job order and contract of services employees of the provincial government of Negros Occidental.

Tumimbang said there might be guidelines on the requests of Pace and it is up to hospitals under the province and the Provincial Administrator to review the matter.