Expert backs ‘green lane’ proposal for vaccinated travelers

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Expert backs �green lane� proposal for vaccinated travelers
This Dec. 24, 2020 photo shows passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The STAR / KJ Rosales, file

MANILA, Philippines — A member of the OCTA Research Group on Friday expressed support for the proposal to establish a “green lane” for travelers from other countries who are fully vaccinated.

But, in an interview with “The Chiefs” on One News, OCTA fellow and molecular biologist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco stressed the need to establish a verification mechanism to ensure that the travelers have indeed received the vaccines.

“I am very supportive of that proposal only because I know of many of our kababayans in the United States who are fully vaccinated and they would like to return to the Philippines to visit their families but they are deterred by the extensive quarantine (requirement),” he said.

“The one challenge that we have is that we’re going to find a way to verify the vaccination status of all of these individuals,” he added, noting that the current vaccination cards issued in the US may easily be forged.

Austriaco noted the efforts to develop a digital vaccine passport and urged the government to integrate a verification mechanism that will allow those who are fully vaccinated to enter the country with just a minimum set of quarantine requirements.

“We now know that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines prevent transmissions. They don’t simply prevent infection, but they prevent transmission so the risk for a fully-vaccinated person – at least with these two vaccines – to bring the virus in is very small,” he said.

Latest guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases mandate that all arriving travelers undergo 14 days of quarantine.

The first 10 days shall be observed in a quarantine facility, with the remainder to be completed under home quarantine in their respective local government units of destination.

A reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR test shall be conducted on the seventh day of the quarantine, with the arriving traveler required to complete the facility-based quarantine period of 10 days even with a negative test result.

There is also an existing travel ban on travelers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and Oman due to the threat of the B.1.617 variant that was first detected in India.

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