MANILA, Philippines – An infectious disease expert and government adviser has underscored the importance of strictly implementing the mandated testing and quarantine protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its highly transmissible variants in the country.
Dr. Edsel Salvana of the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group on Friday said existing protocol requiring returning travelers to the Philippines to undergo a 14-day quarantine period will help stop the entry of more contagious variants, particularly the Delta variant first detected in India.
He said the 14-day quarantine protocol should be coupled with the administration of the RT-PCR test on the seventh day of the quarantine to show an accurate result.
Of the 14 days, travelers are required to spend 10 days in a government facility while the remaining 4 days will be completed at home.
“Ito po ang pamamaraan na kahit may makalusot, kahit mag-false negative pa man yung test, hindi na nakakahawa by the time na matapos ang 14 days na to, mababa na po yung chance na meron pang natitirang virus kahit ma-miss ng tests natin,” Salvana said during the Laging Handa public briefing.
“According to the experts po ng Technical Advisory Group, tiningnan po namin yung datos sa Centers for Disease Control, ang pinaka-safe po talaga na minimum is 10 days facility-based quarantine, followed by 4 days quarantine at home. Hindi na po pwedeng iksian yun, unless ito ngayong pinag-uusapan if vaccinated na po yung traveler,” he added.
Salvana also stressed that the testing should be done on the seventh day because testing a traveler who is newly infected with COVID-19 upon his or her arrival in the Philippines will not show a COVID-19 positive result.
“Sa pag-aaral ng Centers for Disease Control, nakikita po nila na kapag ang isang tao ay nahawaan ng COVID on the day of travel tapos dumating po siya, kung tinest mo yun on arrival, ang tiyansa na mag-positive yung test na yun ay zero percent po kasi kakahawa lang niya,” he said.
“Tapos mananatili po siyang nakakahawa up to 10 days,” he added.
He, however, noted that the viral load on the said individual goes down to 2.4 percent by the 10th day, which lowers the chance of the person transmitting the virus to others.
“Para mawala lalo yung 2% na yun, ina-advise pa rin po natin yung 4 days na home quarantine para tuluyang ligtas po talaga,” he said.
He also said that while the country’s existing travel restrictions for travelers from India and other nations help in controlling the spread of the COVID-10 Delta variant, the stringent implementation of minimum public health standards, including quarantine protocols, is still necessary to break the chain of transmission.
The Philippines has so far recorded 13 cases of Delta variant, one of which has died.