Screening tightened for FLiRT variants

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
Screening tightened for FLiRT variants
An airport security guides visitors from China as they arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila on January 24, 2023.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) has adopted stricter measures in screening tourists and balikbayans coming from countries where the new COVID-19 variants have been detected.

In Memorandum 2024-48, BOQ director Ferdinand Salcedo ordered all BOQ stations to conduct a careful screening of incoming travelers following reports that the KP.2 and KP.3 variants of COVID-19 are spreading globally.?KP.2 and KP.3 are part of a newly discovered subvariants identified as “FLiRT” – a novel virus that is spreading globally.

They came from the JN.1 subvariant, which first became known in late 2023 and was responsible for this year’s earlier increase in infection.

“In light of this, all stations have been directed to conduct thorough screening at points of entry for arriving visitors originating from countries where COVID FLiRT incidents have been detected,” Salcedo noted.

The official also reminded those visiting the country to fill out the e-travel application. Following this, all three terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as well as those of the country’s major airports and seaports were placed on heightened alert to ensure that stringent screening is done on passengers who come from countries where the COVID FLiRT incidents have been detected.

“Travelers should complete the health questionnaire available via https://etravel.gov.ph/,” said Salcedo.

Quarantine officials at the NAIA said they would implement the necessary screening procedures, noting that they already have the necessary equipment used during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of all passengers and the public,” said MIAA general manager Eric Jose Ines.

Ines also instructed all housekeeping service providers to include disinfection of items and locations where passenger contact exposure is high – such as check-in counters, immigration counter tops and the plastic trays used for final screening of passenger luggage and items.

Food concessionaires were also reminded to disinfect their respective areas, especially the tables where customers eat.

“These measures will help prevent the spread of the virus,” Ines said.

The BOQ also urged the general public to practice minimum public health standards.

“The general public should take basic health measures such as frequent hand washing, coughing etiquette, avoiding crowded situations and getting in contact with people with flu like symptoms,” read the Memorandum.

Salcedo also recommended that those not feeling well should just stay home.

“For those who develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19, home isolation is advised,” he added. Earlier reports said COVID-19 infections in some countries such as Singapore have been increasing due to FLiRT.

Health experts urged the public, especially the vulnerable population, to be vigilant and employ protection against the virus. — Rudy Santos

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with