IATF issues new quarantine, testing protocols amid fears of Omicron variant

IATF issues new quarantine, testing protocols amid fears of Omicron variant
A passenger sits alone at the NAIA Terminal 1 on May 3, 2020 after a suspension of international flights.
The STAR / Rudy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s pandemic task force has issued new protocols for arriving travelers from countries or territories not on the government’s Red List.

The country issued the new guidelines amid fears of the Omicron coronavirus variant that has been detected in several countries. The Philippines has also closed its borders to several countries, as additional protocol.

The new guidelines took effect on December 3, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a statement late Thursday night.

Fully vaccinated travelers

Fully vaccinated travelers should have a negative RT-PCR test result, taken within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.

Upon arriving in the Philippines, they will undergo facility-based quarantine and undergo another RT-PCR test on the fifth day since their arrival. “Regardless of a negative result, they shall be required to undergo home quarantine up to the 14th day from the date of arrival,” Nograles added.

Partially vaccinated, unvaccinated

Partially vaccinated, those who have yet to be jabs or whose vaccination status cannot be independently validated are required to present a negative RT-PCR test result, taken within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.

They will likewise be subjected to facility-based quarantine and take another RT-PCR test on the seventh day from their arrival. Even if they receive a negative test result, they are required to finish their quarantine at home up to the 14th day from their arrival.

Nograles also said the Department of Transportation has been tasked to ensure that only passengers who comply with the requirement of negative RT-PCR result prior to travel are allowed to board their flights.

Minors meanwhile will follow the testing and quarantine protocol of the parent or guardian traveling with them, regardless of the child’s vaccination status and country of origin, Nograles added.

International passengers who have already arrived and undergoing quarantine shall continue testing and other protocols in place at the time of their arrival.

Red List countries

Filipinos from Red List countries or territories can only enter the country through government-initiated or non-government repatriations, and Bayanihan flights. They can only deplane via Ninoy Aquino International Airport or Clark International Airport.

Nograles said the DoTr is also ordered to ensure airlines’ compliance to these protocols.

“Upon arrival, the individual shall comply with the testing and quarantine protocols as prescribed under IATF Resolution No. 149-A (s.2021),” he added.

Amended metrics

In the same statement, Nograles said the IATF also amended metrics for determining alert level classifications of provinces, highly urbanized cities and independent component cities.

Among the amendments are removing the following:  

  • One-Week Growth Rate as a metric for escalation from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2;
  • the escalation of areas under Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2 if either case classification or total COVID-19 bed utilization increases to moderate risk or higher;
  • and the escalation of areas under Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 3 if both case classification and total COVID-19 bed utilization are at moderate risk, or if case classification is at high to critical risk.

Following the revised metrics, the province of Apayao shall be under Alert Level 2 from December 3 to 15. — Kristine Joy Patag

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 19, 2022 - 1:59pm

Follow this page for updates on the new COVID-19 variant, dubbed Omicron and originally detected in South Africa. Photo courtesy of the The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

January 19, 2022 - 1:59pm

The Philippines reports the detection of 492 additional cases of the hyper-transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Of the total, 332 are locals, while 160 are returning overseas Filipinos.

This brings the total number of Omicron cases in the country. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

January 19, 2022 - 8:36am

France's daily reported new coronavirus cases broke a new record on Tuesday with an average of over 300,000 a day in the past week, with the headline figure approaching half a million.

The latest data issued by Public Health France showed that there were 464,769 new cases in the last 24-hour period as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spread unabated.

A day earlier, 102,144 people had tested positive for the virus. — AFP

January 18, 2022 - 11:29am

China's postal service has ordered workers to disinfect international deliveries and urged the public to reduce orders from overseas after authorities claimed mail could be the source of recent coronavirus outbreaks.

China Post on Monday published a statement ordering workers to disinfect the outer packaging of all international mail "as soon as possible" and requiring employees handling foreign letters and packages to receive booster vaccine shots.

The postal service also asked the public to reduce purchases and deliveries from "countries and regions with a high overseas epidemic risk" and said domestic mail should be handled in different areas to prevent cross-contamination. — AFP

January 14, 2022 - 11:45am

Preliminary data from a trial shows AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine increased antibodies against the coronavirus Omicron variant for a booster dose.

The British-Swedish pharmaceutical reports that the response against both Omicron and Delta variants was seen in those who received the booster while initially vaccinated with either the AstraZeneca shot or another mRNA vaccine.

January 11, 2022 - 11:09am

Omicron is now the dominant COVID-19 variant in the Philippines says Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, citing results of the latest genome sequencing on January 3.

The newest "variant of concern" has surpassed the Delta variant, believed to be behind the second wave of the pandemic in March last year.

Omicron is even more transmissible than the Delta variant.

FULL STORY: Omicron dominant COVID-19 variant in latest genome sequencing — DOH

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