BACOLOD CITY – The Negros Occidental provincial government is implementing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) health protocols for some 3,000 migrant sugar workers (MSWs) or “sacadas” returning to the province for the milling season starting this month.

Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz II said on Thursday the province no longer requires them to undergo RT-PCR test once they are already fully vaccinated and have also availed of booster shots.

“Our Provincial Health Office (PHO) is monitoring their arrival at the ports. They go directly to their employers who fetch them with their own vehicles. They are also being led to their quarters and placed under observation for a number of days. When they are fit for work, they are allowed to mingle with the rest of the workers,” he added.

These migrant workers, mostly from the province of Antique, harvest sugarcane in the plantations of Negros Occidental, the country’s top sugar-producing province, when the crop year starts in September.

In Executive Order 22-35, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson outlined the guidelines for returning MSWs to prevent the potential surge of Covid-19 cases in the province.

Fully vaccinated plantation workers are required to present a verifiable vaccination card or certificate.

Documents being honored are the Negros Occidental management information system vaccination card, Covid-19 domestic vaccination card duly issued by a legitimate vaccinating establishment, and an official Department of Health vaccination certificate with a quick response code.

If without verifiable vaccination cards, the MSWs are asked to undergo RT-PCR test for free upon arrival.

Those who underwent a swab test are then brought to quarantine facilities on the farms until the results are released by the PHO.

All positive Covid-19 cases are required to undergo quarantine. (PNA)