DOH to recommend change in testing protocol for arriving passengers
An international airline ground staff wearing protective gear works at the airport in Manila on Aug. 4, 2020.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

DOH to recommend change in testing protocol for arriving passengers

(Philstar.com) - May 5, 2021 - 11:12am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health is recommending to the government’s national coronavirus task force to revise its COVID-19 testing protocol of testing for incoming travelers to tighten border control amid the threat of new coronavirus variants.

Present protocol directs inbound passengers to undergo an RT-PCR test on the fifth day, unless they show COVID-19 symptoms. If the test result is negative, they will be endorsed to the local government to finish their mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Wednesday noted “there are lapses” in their current protocol and they are moving to revise border control amid new coronavirus variants traced in foreign countries.

She said new evidence shows that viral load is still high by the 7th or 8th day.

“That’s why we are revising again our protocol and we will be presenting to [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] to adopt this kind of implementation,” she said.

“Based on evidence and recommendation of our experts that the viral load is still high until 8th day so we want to be sure that we get to able to identify all of these travelers coming in accurately so that we can isolate properly and we can break the chain of transmission,” Vergeire added.

But the DOH official stressed that the IATF would still have to approve their recommendation.

Health authorities on Tuesday reported they have detected 678 additional COVID-19 cases of three different coronavirus variants, including two considered as variants of concern.

Of these new cases, 289 are infected with the variant first detected in the United Kingdom known as B.1.1.7, while 380 are infected with the variant first identified in South Africa known as B.1.351.

The agencies also logged another nine cases of P.3, the variant first found in the Philippines.

On the same day, health authorities reported 5,683 new infections, pushing national coronavirus caseload to 1,067,892. Of these, 66,060 are deemed as active cases. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico

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