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IATF OKs second COVID-19 test for travelers from countries with new variant
Travelers walk past a thermal camera upon arrival at the international airport in Manila on February 5, 2020.
AFP/Romeo Gacad

IATF OKs second COVID-19 test for travelers from countries with new variant

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - January 22, 2021 - 10:27am

MANILA, Philippines — Travelers coming home from countries with confirmed cases of the more transmissible COVID-19 variants will now be required to take another COVID-19 test five days after their arrival in the country, Malacañang said Friday.

Travelers arriving from jurisdictions covered by travel restrictions will be tested once they arrive in the Philippines. They will be quarantined until they receive the result of a second COVID-19 test that they will take on the fifth day after their arrival.

“From the strict observation of an absolute 14-day facility-based quarantine period for Filipino citizens coming from areas where travel restrictions are in place, the IATF amended this to prescribed testing and quarantine protocols,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

“Passengers coming from, or transiting through, countries where travel restrictions are in place due to new COVID-19 variants […] shall be tested upon arrival and shall be quarantined until the result of the subsequent test administered on the fifth day is released,” he said.

Several 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. This prompted the Department of Health to recommend retesting inbound passengers.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said this is to ensure the detection of possible infections before returning Filipinos come home to their communities.

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

The government is shutting its borders to foreigners coming from 34 countries until the end of the month in a bid to keep new COVID-19 variants out.

Roque announced Friday that foreign nationals with valid visas, which include personnel of accredited international organizations, and spouse and minor children of Filipino citizens traveling with them are exempted from the travel ban.

“Those who arrive for medical and emergency cases, including their medical escorts, if any, are now subject to applicable testing and quarantine protocols as prescribed by the DOH,” he also said.

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