DOH defends eased protocols for arriving passengers

Department of Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday defended the government’s decision to ease the entry restrictions for inbound travelers.

This was after Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, questioned the revised quarantine rules that forego the testing requirement for arriving passengers.

“Napagkaisahan ng Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) na luwagan. Alam naman natin na dahil sa bakuna, gumanda ang ating general conditions at kahit sa ibang bansa, nakita naman na hindi na kailangan magpa-test basta fully vaccinated and especially if boosted (The IATF has agreed to loosen the restrictions. We know that our general conditions are improving because of the vaccination and we saw that even in other countries, tests are no longer required so long as [the travelers] are fully vaccinated and especially if boosted). It will also open our doors for economic recovery faster,” Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said in a Laging Handa briefing.

The Philippines is lifting the quarantine policy for fully vaccinated foreign travelers and returning overseas Filipinos, starting February 10 and February 1, respectively.

Under the relaxed rules, arriving passengers would no longer be required to undergo facility-based quarantine but should self-monitor for any sign or symptom for seven days with the first day being the date of arrival.

They must present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result taken within 48 hours before departure from the country of origin.

In a radio interview, Leachon said testing is an “essential feature and pillar” to curb the pandemic, noting that a person could still test positive for the virus upon arrival since transmission can still happen during the flight. (PNA)

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