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Boracay task force OKs saliva test for tourists
This Jan. 2021 photo shows tourists in Boracay.
Malay Tourism Office/Facebook

Boracay task force OKs saliva test for tourists

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - March 18, 2021 - 3:12pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force on Thursday approved the saliva test as an alternative to the nasopharyngeal swab test as one of the entry requirements to the island.

The task force said this should only be administered by the Philippine Red Cross and other testing laboratories that have been approved and accredited by the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health. 

The swab and saliva tests are both RT-PCR (Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests.

“Based on the approval of the IATF, this will take effect immediately,” Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflor said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Miraflor added that the executive orders will be sent to the airlines to inform them that passengers heading to Caticlan are allowed entry with negative saliva test results.

Since March 10, the saliva test requirement was only accepted for mainland Aklan travelers and not for Boracay tourists.

Saliva test requirement could boost tourist arrivals

Malay acting mayor Frolibar Bautista and the Department of Tourism welcomed the approval of the saliva test requirement for Boracay tourists.

Bautista is hopeful that the easement of travel requirement will help boost tourist arrivals.

“Nahihirapan na kami. We have no other industry except tourism,” Bautista said.

“Thank you po sa consideration. Hopefully babalik na ang mga tourist dito sa isla,” he added.

In a statement, the DOT also expressed willingness to support funding for an RT-PCR or gene expert machine as the LGU of Malay may propose.

It also recommended to the IATF that persons below 15 and above 65 years old traveling from Manila to Boracay should not be restricted from going to the airport and flying since Boracay is under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) as long as the passenger has a valid plane ticket.

The recommendation was made after the Metro Manila Development Authority last Tuesday announced that only those aged 18 to 65 years old are allowed to go out of their homes amid the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, the the DOT pressed for strict monitoring and implementation of health and safety protocols by the concerned local government units and agencies.

“The DOT reminds tourists and stakeholders of the need to still strictly ensure  minimum health and safety protocols such as wearing of a mask and face shield, physical distancing, hand sanitizing, and booking or operating in DOT-accredited establishments, among others  to protect both the tourists, tourism workers and the residents of our host communities,” it said.

Boracay has been receiving an average of 700 to 1,000 tourists daily this month, according to Bautista and BIATF chair Roy Cimatu, who is also environment secretary.

From March 1 to 14, the island attracted a total of 10,708 local tourists. Of these, 6,387 are from Metro Manila.

BORACAY BORACAY INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE COVID-19 NEW NORMAL NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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