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Man gets 2 years for faking RT-PCR result

The Manila Times logo The Manila Times 15/09/2021 Al Jacinto

ZAMBOANGA CITY: A local court has sentenced a man to serve two years in jail after pleading guilty for faking his reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result, according to the city government.

The Ninth Regional Trial Court sentenced Nadznie Kasim for violating City Ordinance No. 532.

"Records of the case showed on Aug. 20, 2021, Kasim, a private individual, was accused of having willfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsified or caused to be falsified a commercial document, RT-PCR negative result certification, in his attempt to enter the city," the local government said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar has issued an executive order making it mandatory for all travelers - whether they are fully vaccinated or not - entering Zamboanga to present their negative RT-PCR test result to ensure they do not carry the deadly respiratory virus and infect other people.

The mayor also ordered a strict border control and implementation of the health protocols in Zamboanga, saying travelers must have negative Covid-19 test results, whether by saliva or nasopharyngeal RT-PCR test, before they enter Zamboanga.

She previously issued Executive Order 651-2021 that mandates all inbound passengers, whether authorized persons outside residence or private individuals, regardless of reason or purpose of entry, including transit travelers to present negative RT-PCR test result within five days from date of specimen collection and their valid identification cards before they can enter the city.

The mayor said these are temporary measures designed to curb the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in order to promote the health and safety of the general welfare of the citizens.

Zamboanga, which is under general community quarantine, has over 700 active Covid-19 cases and the number continues to increase. City Health Officer Dr. Dulce Amor Miravite also noted Covid-19 has already affected the younger population.

But with dozens of cases daily, the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases may change Zamboanga's quarantine classification to allow the local government impose stricter measures or granular lockdown in areas where there are high numbers of Covid-19 cases, and prevent the spread of the deadly respiratory disease.

The spike in infections in the community are largely associated with the Delta variant and the complacency of residents who continue to violate public health protocols despite repeated warnings from the local government and the City Health Office.

Salazar, who chairs the local Covid-19 task force, has repeatedly called on residents to strictly follow the health protocols as the local government continues its massive vaccination program to be able to achieve herd immunity or inoculate at least 70 percent of Zamboanga's almost or more than one million population.

Just this month, at least a dozen village officials from Basilan's Isabela City who arrived here without health and travel requirements were intercepted by local authorities at the Port of Zamboanga.

Zamboanga City Tourism Officer Sarita Sebastian said the officials face sanctions based on the guidelines set by local Covid-19 task force after they failed to present negative RT-PCR test results and S-PaSS, among other documents.

S-PaSS or Safe, Swift and Smart Passage is a digital travel management system developed by the Department of Science and Technology, which is being used across the country upon order of the Department of the Interior and Local Government during this pandemic period. It was institutionalized this year as a one-stop-shop application or communication for travelers.

The local government also started random rapid antigen tests among travelers, including those under essential services, at all entry points here to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

Sebastian said the travelers, who arrived here on board a private boat, were also quarantined in a hotel while waiting for the release of their Covid-19 test results. She did not identify the village officials and the Isabela City government has not issued any statement.

But Isabela Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman previously said the strict health protocols and quarantine guidelines imposed by Salazar are for the safety of everybody. She even thanked Salazar for her strict implementation of the public health protocols.

Isabela is a sister city of Zamboanga.

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