LGUs ‘retain discretion’ on requirements for vaccinated travelers — IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2021   •   474

MANILA, Philippines — Local government units (LGU) are still allowed to require negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated domestic travelers, including senior citizens, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) clarified on Friday.

The IATF issued the clarification after some LGUs raised concerns over the eased travel restrictions on fully vaccinated individuals by requiring only an authentic vaccination card as stated in the task force’s Resolution No.124-5.

“LGUs retain the discretion in requiring RT-PCR testing or accepting duly issued COVID-19 vaccination cards for allowed interzonal travel,” IATF and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

“These vaccination cards shall be sufficient proof of vaccination,” he added.

Roque, however, stressed that any individual who will present forged and/or falsified vaccination cards shall be dealt with in accordance with the law.

The Philippines has so far recorded over 1.4 million coronavirus cases.

Since March, the government has administered more than 12.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Davao City temporary limits COVID-19 swab tests due to lack of kits, lab repair

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2021

The Davao City government on Tuesday said it has temporarily limited the conduct of COVID-19 RT-PCR tests for close contacts or F1 and individuals with flu-like illnesses (ILI).

In a statement, COVID-19 Task Force spokesperson Dr. Michelle Schlosser said that Davao City is currently experiencing a limited supply of detection kits.

The molecular laboratory extraction machine that runs swab specimens at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) is also under repair.

With this, the free RT-PCR swab testing for individuals who do not fall under F1 and ILI will not be accommodated from Monday, September 13, until further notice.

These include people tagged through the Safe DQR, surveillance and community swabbing for high-risk areas, and individuals who are getting an RT-PCR result for their health certificate.

“Ang atoang unahon is katong mga high risk individuals. Mao ni atoang close contacts or F1, katong naa jud direct contact sa known positive ug katong mga patients nga naga show og Covid-related symptoms. Typically naga positive gyud ni sila so unahon gyud nato sila,” Schlosser said.

(We will be prioritizing high-risk individuals. These are the close contacts or F1, those who are direct contacts of a known positive, and those patients showing Covid-related symptoms. Typically they turn out positive so we prioritize them.)

As the SPMC molecular laboratory is ongoing repair, specimens will be processed through the Los Amigos Molecular laboratory which can only run 450 specimens per day, as supposed to 1,500 specimens per day with the combined capacity of the two (2) molecular laboratories.

The public is also advised to expect a slight delay in the turnaround time of swab results.

In the meantime, Schlosser said that individuals may opt to go to a private COVID-19 laboratory at their own expense should they need an RT-PCR test result.

She assured residents that this will only be temporary and that the city is doing all it can to secure additional supplies.

Mga magpopositibo sa COVID-19 antigen testing, dapat mag-isolate agad — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   September 8, 2021

MANILA — Ang RT-PCR test pa rin ang gold standard para sa COVID-19 testing sa bansa. Ngunit paalala ng Department of Health (DOH) sa publiko, sundin ang umiiral na protocols kapag sumailalim sa antigen testing.

Batay sa panuntunan ng DOH, kapag positibo ang resulta ng antigen test ay kailangang mag-isolate kaagad ang isang indibidwal habang naghihintay na makapagpa-RT-PCR test.

Ayon kay DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, sa pamamagitan nito ay mapuputol agad ang transmission ng sakit at hindi na dadami pa ang posibleng mahawa ng isang taong nagpositibo sa COVID-19, lalo na kung sila ay carrier ng mas agresibong Delta variant.

“So, whenever there is a positive antigen test and then naging negative sa RT- PCR, we still go by with the first test which is the antigen and we isolate the person so that we can be more certain o kaya ay mas cautious tayo upang wala tayong maihalo ulit sa community na naging positive,” ani Vergeire.

Ngunit sa obserbasyon ng kagawaran, marami ang hindi sumusunod sa naturang panuntunan kaya ang paalala ng DOH sa close contacts ng COVID-19 patients, tapusin ang 14-day quarantine period at tiyaking wala silang sintomas.

Kailangan din aniyang may clearance ng doktor o healthcare worker bago payagang makalabas at matapos ang quarantine.

Samantala, nagbabala rin ang DOH sa mga nagsasamantala sa presyo ng antigen testing sa gitna ng pandemya.

Alinsunod sa DOH Dept Circular No. 2021- 0323, ang antigen testing ay dapat nagkakahalaga lamang ng P960 at kasama na rito ang presyo ng testing kit at operational cost ng licensed laboratory. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

DFA welcomes arrival of 323 repatriated Filipinos from Abu Dhabi 

Maris Federez   •   August 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The government has welcomed 323 Filipinos that flew in from the United Arab Emirates, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

A fifth DFA-chartered repatriation flight from the UAE for the month of August, and the twelfth from the UAE since June 2021 carrying the 323 Filipinos landed at the Davao International Airport on Wednesday (August 25).

This brings the total of repatriated Filipinos from the country to 5,041 since the start of the pandemic in February 2020.

In a statement, the DFA said that as part of health and safety protocols, all repatriates were tested and have yielded negative results in the RT-PCR COVID-19 test at least 48 hours prior to their departure from the UAE.

The repatriates will also undergo stringent, facility-based quarantine provided by the Philippine government, it added.

The DFA said the newly arrived also received USD 200 as reintegration assistance.

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola expressed the department’s gratitude to its partners for their support of the government’s repatriation efforts.

“We are ever thankful to all our partners from the local government and agencies, our foreign service posts, host governments, as well as our people who work tirelessly and have been extra generous with their time in ensuring that our repatriations are successful. Again, we reiterate our readiness to assist all our distressed kababayans who want to go home,” Arriola said.

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