IATF issues new testing, quarantine protocols for arriving passengers

IATF issues new testing, quarantine protocols for arriving passengers
An international airline ground staff wearing protective gear works at the airport in Manila on Aug. 4, 2020.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s coronavirus task force has changed testing and quarantine protocols for arriving passengers amid threat of new and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday said inbound passengers will be taken to a quarantine facility upon arrival and undergo an RT-PCR test on the fifth day, unless they show COVID-19 symptoms.

The Department of Health confirmed that passengers will no longer undergo a swab test upon arrival, but only on the fifth day.

The new testing and quarantine protocols cover all passengers regardless of origin and will take effect on February 1.

“Arriving passengers, regardless of their origin, shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine upon arrival. They shall undergo RT-PCR test on the fifth day from their date of arrival in the country, unless the passenger shows symptoms at an earlier date while on quarantine,” Roque said.

He added that once the passenger yields a negative COVID-19 result, the person will be endorsed to the local government unit where he or she resides and shall continue the remainder of the 14-day quarantine under strict monitoring.

“Appropriate patient management shall be observed as outlined in the guidelines of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and The Department of Health Omnibus Guidelines on Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment and Reintegration Strategies for COVID-19,” Roque also said.

The Philippines has closed its border to foreign nationals coming from 36 countries until the end of January in a bid to keep out the new and more infectious coronavirus variants out. Nationals of the Czech Republic are the latest placed under the travel ban.

Filipinos and foreigners with valid visas, such as personnel of accredited international organizations, and spouse and minor children of Filipino citizens traveling with them may enter the country, but they will be subjected to testing and quarantine protocols.

This comes after the health authorities, on Tuesday, confirmed the local transmission of the B.1.1.7 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 in Bontoc province.

According to the World Health Organization, "local transmission indicates locations where the source of infection is within the reporting location."

Last week, the DOH reported 16 additional cases of the COVID-19 variant that was first seen in the United Kingdom. Of the figure, 12 were from the upland town of Bontoc. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico



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