DOH to push for second COVID-19 test on fifth day of arrival from abroad
File photo shows Filipino travelers stranded at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on June 21, 2020 following canceled flights and bookings due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, file

DOH to push for second COVID-19 test on fifth day of arrival from abroad

(Philstar.com) - January 21, 2021 - 1:05pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health said it is recommending an additional testing requirement for travelers entering the country in a bid to ensure the detection of possible infections before Filipinos coming home from abroad return to their communities.

In a briefing Thursday, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the department will recommend to the government’s coronavirus task force the requirement of having returning overseas Filipinos get tested again five days after their arrival in the country.

“We have already recommended to the technical working group of IATF that once our countrymen arrive from any country, they need to get tested. But we have to repeat the testing on the fifth day after they have arrived before we release them to local government units,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“In this way, the timing of our testing is appropriate and we can be more certain if they are negative or positive [for the virus],” she added.

Testing on arrival

Current testing protocols for inbound passengers require them to undergo reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test upon arrival at the airport. They will stay in a government-accredited facility or hotel while waiting for their test results.

This came after three contacts of the country’s first confirmed case of the more contagious COVID-19 variant were found to be positive for the disease after initially testing negative.

The incubation period of COVID-19—or the time between exposure to the virus and onset of symptoms—is between five and six days on average but it can be as long as 14 days.

Vergeire said the recommendation will presented to the IATF in a meeting later today.

“Hopefully, the principals of IATF will approve [this]. Hopefully also, we will have resources for this,” she said.

The health official also urged local governments to strengthen further their isolation and quarantine rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in communities. — Gaea Katreena Cabico


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