IATF approves uniform travel protocols for LGUs

Maris Federez   •   February 27, 2021   •   662

A security officer (C) with a trained dog inspects passenger luggage at a provincial bus terminal in Quezon City, Philippines, 29 October 2019. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the uniform travel protocols for all local government units (LGUs).

An advisory released on Saturday (February 27) by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) crafted these uniform travel protocols for land, air and sea.

It is in close coordination with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, League of Provinces of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, and the League of Cities of the Philippines.

The uniform protocol provides that “travelers shall no longer be required to undergo COVID-19 testing except if the local government unit (LGU) of destination will make testing as a requirement prior to travel. Testing will be limited to RT-PCR test.”

“Travelers shall no longer undergo quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination,” the advisory further read.

Minimum public health standards, such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wearing of face masks and face shields across all settings shall continue to be strictly implemented by authorities concerned.

Ports of entry and exit personnel shall strictly implement clinical and exposure assessment as health assessment of passengers shall also be mandatory upon entry in the port/terminal and exit at point of destination.

Meanwhile, the travel authority issued by the Joint Task Force COVID Shield and health certificates shall no longer be required.

However, authorized persons outside of residence (APORS) from national government agencies and their attached agencies must provide their identification card, travel order, and travel itinerary. They must likewise pass symptom-screening at the ports of entry and exit.

The PCOO media release further read that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)’s Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) Travel Management System will now be institutionalized as the one-stop-shop application/ communication for travelers.

“The StaySafe.ph System shall be utilized as the primary contact tracing system. Other existing contact tracing applications, such as Traze App, must be integrated with the StaySafe.ph System,” it added.

Ports and terminals must have sufficient quarantine or isolation facilities, as well as a workable referral system wherein symptomatic travelers shall be immediately transferred to quarantine or isolation facilities to enable the Bureau of Quarantine for airports, or local health officials for LGUs, to take over.

All buses in Metro Manila bound for the provinces, on the other hand, shall be required to use the Integrated Terminal Exchange as the central hub for transportation.

“At the option of the LGUs, they may provide transportation for all travelers who are transiting from one LGU to another in cases of arrivals at air and seaports to their end-point destinations,” the IATF said.

The DILG, the DOST, the Department of Health, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Transportation, and the Philippine National Police, as well as the LGUs, shall jointly ensure that these protocols are smoothly implemented.

PhilHealth’s debit-credit payment method now applies to all COVID-19 high, critical risk areas – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s task force for COVID-19 response has approved the application of Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (PhilHealth) debit-credit payment method (DCPM) in areas with high-risk and critical COVID-19 situation nationwide, Malacañang said Friday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved the policy on Thursday, April 22.

Roque said the move was made as high-risk and critical risk areas will also be prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccine allocation, human health resource deployment, and other relevant COVID-19 response measures, as applicable.

Prior to the IATF’s order, PhilHealth, under its Circular 2021-0004, provides for the use of payment method to facilitate the settlement of accounts payable to healthcare facilities during the State of Public Health Emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PhilHealth initially applied DCPM only to areas identified by the IATF, particularly in the National Capital Region, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal.

Roque said the IATF likewise directed the National Task Force (NTF) Task Group Treat, through the One COVID Referral System, to utilize the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases (FASSSTER) projections on target beds and human resources for health.

“These projections shall identify health capacity needs required to lower health care and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rates,” he said.

“The NTF shall also review and implement the recommended Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat- Reintegrate strategies to reduce the health utilization rates and augment the needs of human resources for health,” he added.

Roque said that the task group will also identify target additional beds on a weekly basis that will substantially reduce health care and ICU utilization rates, determine and list specific health facilities and infrastructure to contribute these additional beds, and operationalize how these beds become functional with adequate human resources for health and equipment.

The Palace official earlier said that the government is eyeing to add 200 more ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.

“The NTF shall further engage the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to develop training and instructional materials of available COVID-19 response frameworks to enhance the enforcement of COVID-19 strategies at the barangay level,” Roque said.

The said materials shall be cascaded to the barangay, purok, sitio, and zone levels through the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the regional counterparts of the NTF for immediate and intensified implementation through barangay empowerment, he added.

IATF OKs A4 priority group for COVID-19 vaccination – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the list of sectors included in the A4 priority group of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program, Malacañang said Friday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the A4 priority list includes the following:

  • Workers in commuter transport (land, air, and sea), including logistics
  • Public and private wet and dry market vendors
  • Frontline workers in groceries, supermarkets, delivery services
  • Workers in manufacturing for food, beverage, medical and pharmaceutical products
  • Frontline workers in food retail, including food service delivery
  • Frontline workers in private and government financial services
  • Frontline workers in hotels and accommodation establishments
  • Priests, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders
  • Security guards/ personnel assigned in offices, agencies, and organizations identified in the list of priority industries/sectors
  • Frontline workers in private and government news media
  • Customer-facing personnel of telecoms, cable and internet service providers, electricity distribution and water distribution utilities
  • Frontline personnel in basic education and higher education institutions and agencies
  • Overseas Filipino workers, including those scheduled for deployment within two months

Also included in the A4 priority group for COVID-19 vaccination are the following:

  • Frontline workers in law/justice, security, and social protection sectors
  • Frontline government workers engaged in the operations of government transport system, quarantine inspection;
  • Worker safety inspection and other COVID-19 response activities
  • Frontline government workers in charge of tax collection, assessment of businesses for incentives, election, national ID, data collection personnel
  • Diplomatic community and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) personnel in consular operations
  • Department of Public Works and Highways personnel in charge of monitoring government infrastructure projects

Roque said the IATF approved the A4 list on Thursday, April 15.

The Palace official likewise announced that the IATF has approved the continuation of the training of the national athletes at the Olympic Training Bubble in Calamba, Laguna as well as the extension of the temporary suspension of foreign nationals until April 30, 2021.

Foreign nationals with valid entry exemption documents duly issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs prior to March 22, 2021 will be allowed entry to the Philippines.

The IATF also approved the extension of the risk-level classification of Quirino Province under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine until April 30, Roque said.

 

Temporary vaccination facility soon to rise in Nayong Pilipino

Marje Pelayo   •   April 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF)  has approved the construction of a vaccination facility at the Nayong Pilipino compound in Paranaque City, the Department of Tourism (DOT) confirmed Monday (April 12).

A DOT-attached agency, the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) agreed to use a vacant lot in the area for the construction of the facility to help in the government’s vaccination program.

“This is expected to be a game-changer in the vaccination program. The facility, which will be a public-private partnership, is expected to vaccinate at least 12,000 people a day,” the DOT said in a statement.

The project will be made possible through an agreement between the National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) and the Nayong Pilipino Foundation, whose board had already given its preliminary approval of the project to ensure its immediate execution.

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