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Inbound tourists can get a free Covid-19 antigen test from NegOcc.

Starting February 1, the provincial government of Negros Occidental will provide a free rapid antigen test (RAT) for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to inbound passengers who cannot afford it.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson announced on Monday that Negrense travelers can declare their willingness to be tested upon entry to the province in the Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) travel coordination permit.

The RAT will be available at the Bacolod-Silay Airport in Silay City or at the ports here.

“A reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or an antigen test is still required from February 1 to 15. “They will have to indicate they are willing to be tested upon arrival if they cannot pay or for other reasons it is impossible to get to a laboratory,” Lacson told reporters.

Lacson, together with the city and municipal mayors of Negros Occidental, agreed on January 28 to Mayor Evelio Leonardia’s request that the necessary RT-PCR test result for arriving travelers be scrapped by February 1.

Instead, arriving travelers will be required to provide a negative RAT test obtained from an accredited Department of Health clinic or laboratory within 48 hours of their scheduled departure.

While both tests are appropriate, according to Lacson, the RT-PCR test is valid for 72 hours after swab sample extraction, whereas the RAT test is only valid for 48 hours.

He also stated that the provincial government is willing to do a free antigen test for Bacolod-bound travelers upon arrival “to check the veracity of RAT results and for everyone’s safety.”

In the entire Western Visayas, including Negros Occidental and Bacolod City, Alert Level 3 has been extended till February 15.

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