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RT-PCR test no longer needed for fully vaccinated travelers in Philippines

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - July 5, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer have to get an RT-PCR test if they travel to other local government units in the Philippines, the national government said on Sunday, July 4, 2021.

These individuals only need to present their vaccination card.

“The presentation of a COVID-19 domestic vaccination card duly issued by a legitimate vaccinating establishment OR certificate of quarantine completion showing the holder’s vaccination status as may be issued by the Bureau of Quarantine, whichever is applicable, shall be sufficient alternatives to any testing requirement (before travel or upon arrival) which the local government unit of destination may require,” says presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Sunday.

According to guidelines of the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), an individual shall be considered as being fully vaccinated if he or she has more than or equal to two weeks after having received the second dose in a two-dose series, or more than or equal to two weeks after having received a single-dose vaccine.

The vaccine administered to the individual has to be in the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) list or Compassionate Special Permit (CSP) issued by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or in the Emergency Use Listing of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Travelers, however, still have to undergo health and exposure screening upon arrival at the local government unit of destination.

Other new rule

The IATF also said that fully vaccinated individuals who are close contacts of probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases may undergo a shortened seven (7)-day quarantine period. This, provided that the individual remains asymptomatic for the duration of the seven-day period with the first day being the date immediately after the last exposure.

In the event that a Reverse Transcription - Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Test needs to be performed, it may be done not earlier than the fifth day after the date of the last exposure.

However, for close contacts that are fully vaccinated that may have been traced beyond the seventh day from last exposure and who have remained asymptomatic, no testing and quarantine shall be required.

Should the RT-PCR Test yield a positive result, or he/she becomes symptomatic, he/she shall follow the prescribed testing and isolation protocols.

IATF’s resolution 124-BAs also states that the intra-zonal movement of fully vaccinated senior citizens within areas under General Community Quarantine and Modified General Community Quarantine shall continue to be allowed, subject to the presentation of a COVID-19 domestic vaccination card.

Effectivity

With the new policies, the Department of Health (DOH) and other relevant agencies are directed to amend their issuances accordingly.

Roque told The Freeman on Sunday that his announcement was good as effective.

Cebu officials will need to discuss the matter in a meeting on Tuesday, July 6, 2021.

“Let’s wait for a meeting scheduled Tuesday with the stakeholders and then will formally inform on the above guidelines for vaccinated travelers,” said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of the Visayas COVID Vaccination Operations Center and chief pathologist of DOH-7.

Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, chief of the Cebu City Emergency Operations Center, said the meeting will be participated by representatives of the three urbanized cities – Cebu City, Mandaue City, and Lapu-Lapu City; Cebu Province; Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas; DOH-7; and Project Balik Buhay.

As far as Cebu City is concerned, Garganera said he will endorse the new policy to Mayor Edgardo Labella as an incentive to fully vaccinated individuals.

“As an incentive to fully vaccinated individuals, the EOC will be endorsing to the Mayor that Cebu City domestic inbound passengers are to be exempted from PCR test and other medical requirements if they are fully vaccinated. But it must be 2 weeks after the last/second dose,” he said.

Polo

Meanwhile, the IATF also said that the option of presenting Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) validations as proof of vaccination status is exclusive to Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFWs) only via Resolution 124-A.

POLOs will be accepting applications for validation beginning July 5, 2021.

OFWs who can present International Certificates of Vaccination may already avail of the green lanes at the start of this month, provided they comply with other requirements.

“Green” countries/jurisdictions are those classified by the Department of Health as “Low Risk” countries/jurisdictions based on disease incidence rate.

Green countries identified include Albania, American Samoa, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Benin, Belize,The British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cayman Islands, Chad, China, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Eswatini,Falkland Islands, French Polynesia,Gambia, Ghana,Greenland, Grenada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Isle of Man, Israel, Laos,Liberia, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montserrat,Morocco, Mozambique, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria ,Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Rwanda, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Singapore, Sint Eustatius, South Korea, Taiwan,Togo, Turks and Caicos Islands (U.K), Vietnam and Zimbabwe. — Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, JMO (FREEMAN)

COVID-19 VACCINE
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