While all 17 regions in the Philippines have recorded cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), some provinces remain free from infection since the country recorded its first case in January.
According to a 24 Oras report by Lei Alviz on Monday, 11 of the 26 COVID-19-free provinces are in Mindanao, 10 are in Luzon, while five are in Visayas.
Data from the Department of Health analyzed by the GMA News Research team found that COVID-19 cases nationwide continue to be concentrated in Metro Manila.
The following are the country’s COVID-19-free provinces, which does not include areas where positive cases were recorded but infected patients eventually recovered:
- Agusan Del Sur
- Camarines Norte
- Davao Occidental
- Dinagat Islands
- Eastern Samar
- Mountain Province
- Southern Leyte
- Surigao Del Norte
- Surigao Del Sur
- Zamboanga Del Norte
- Zamboanga Sibugay
Declaring COVID-19-free provinces
Samar 1st District Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento proposed the gradual reopening of provinces that are free from COVID-19.
Sarmiento urged the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to consider releasing COVID-19-free areas from quarantine after April 30.
In these areas, borders will still be sealed but life inside the province can slowly return to normal.
Only 50 percent of the workforce will initially be allowed to report for duty and another 10 percent will be added for each succeeding week that the province remains COVID-19-free.
“Ang unang-una nating kino-consider, ang food chain. Ang sinasabi natin, specifically sardines, nanggagaling ito sa Mindanao ang raw supply,” Sarmiento said.
“The reason why we’re doing this [is] para naman gradually ibalik natin sa normal ang ibang lugar na wala namang impeksyon nitong COVID-19.”
The Philippines has recorded over 6,500 COVID-19 cases with 654 recoveries and 437 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon. —Julia Mari Ornedo/LDF, GMA News