MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he is not comfortable with relaxing quarantine and testing protocols for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
During Wednesday’s (April 21) public address, the President noted that less stringent measures could compromise the entire country as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
“I’m not quite comfortable with the relaxation that’s being brought now,” he said.
“I am not ready for a compromise lalo na ngayon. ‘Yung ibang sakit siguro, pwede pa – iyong mga rabies. Pero ito, talagang … as I have said, dapo rito, dapo roon,” he added.
The meeting which included health experts was in response to the appeal of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for an immediate swab test on OFWs upon arrival and a shortening of the quarantine period or their stay in hotels or isolation facilities.
“Kaya nga po kami nakikiusap sana, na kung maaari, ay we go back to the original protocol noon na pagdating ng ating OFWs, swab kaagad sila,” Bello said.
The medical experts recommended a review of the testing protocol but insisted that the implementation of strict quarantine measures is still best to be strictly enforced at this time.
“The [Technical Advisory Group] had some preliminary discussions po regarding the current issue, and we were thinking that based on the data that we have right now, it’s a better option to review the testing protocol,” said DOH-TAG member Dr. Anna Ong-Lim.
“We recommend that it be done at a later time, but the critical intervention should really be that quarantine should be strictly enforced,” she concluded.