MAASIN CITY, June 1 (PIA) -- Local government units (LGUs) have exercised certain degrees of flexibility in managing the series of arrivals and receiving returning locals amid the fear that Coronavirus Disease - 2019 (COVID-19) may spread, City Mayor Nacional Mercado, voiced out.

“We are flexible,” the city mayor declared in a pep talk after the regular flag-raising rites on Monday, shortly before destroying the reams of seized cigarettes, a ceremony held in connection with the city’s observance of World No Tobacco Day.

He announced another batch of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) coming home that will be fetched in Tacloban by the city LGU’s resources like personnel and vehicles, to be placed in quarantine areas already identified upon arriving, while exerting efforts to look for other possible isolation units to cope up with expected more arrivals.

He wondered how other LGUs in the province without similar resources may have copped, yet remained flexible and compliant enough to act, to make do, to respond to the call of the moment so as to accommodate the continued homecoming of their constituents.

Last week, surveillance teams of the city, province, and other municipalities scrambled doing contact tracing of those who travelled in the plane with an OFW from Hilongos, Leyte, who was found out as COVID-19 positive.

Co-travellers in the city had been identified, their swab samples taken, then submitted to the testing facility in Tacloban, Mayor Mercado said, hoping the results would turn out negative.

The city and the 18 municipalities are now operating under Executive Order Number 30 that extends the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status for the third time starting June 1 until June 15.

Simplified basic health protocols in handling inbound and outbound residents are spelled out in the latest provincial EO.

As this developed, Cokaliong shipping lines announced the resumption of its commercial trips from Cebu to ports in Mindanao and the Visayas, including Maasin City, starting June 1.

The shipping company was assigned by the provincial IATF in previous meetings as the main ship to ferry returning Southern Leyteños, with this city as the preferred port of call.

For locally-stranded individuals (LSIs), mostly students and workers coming from Cebu, Mayor Mercado said he had requested Cokaliong management to defer until June 8 the Cebu-Maasin trip with returning Southern Leyteño passengers. (ldl/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)