PHL new testing, quarantine protocols to take effect Feb. 1 – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2021   •   474

MANILA, Philippines – A new set of COVID-19 testing and quarantine protocols for travelers allowed entry to the Philippines will be implemented starting February 1, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the new policy was adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Tuesday.

Arriving passengers, regardless of their origin, shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine upon arrival.

They shall then undergo RT-PCR test on the fifth day from their date of arrival in the country, unless the passenger shows symptoms at an earlier date while on quarantine.

Those who tested negative shall be endorsed to the local government unit of destination where the passenger shall continue the remainder of their 14-day quarantine.

“Appropriate patient management shall be observed as outlined in the guidelines of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Health Omnibus Guidelines on Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment and Reintegration Strategies for COVID-19,” Roque said.

The Philippines has imposed travel restrictions on foreign passengers from 35 countries as a precautionary measure against the reported new variants of novel coronavirus disease.

The travel restriction will last until January 31 unless further extended by the government.

PH eyes COVID-19 testing for inbound travelers on 7th or 8th day

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is looking to require incoming travelers to be tested for COVID-19 within seven or eight days after their arrival in the country.

In an online briefing on Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they will recommend this policy based on evidence that showed that the viral load is still high on the seventh or eighth day.

“Ipinakita ito nina Dr. Edsel (Salvaña) at iba pang technical advisory group members, based on evidence that on the 7th and the 8th day, nandoon yung pinakamataas na porsiyento that a person who might have the disease might turn positive,” Vergeire said.

Under current guidelines, inbound passengers are subjected to COVID-19 testing on the fifth or sixth day of their quarantine unless they manifest symptoms at an earlier point.

Vergeire said the recommendation aims to accurately identify and isolate all travelers infected with the disease, and break the chain of transmission.

“Although hindi natin dini-discount yung fact na maaaring meron na on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth pero pinakamataas po because the viral load is high is on the 7th and 8th day,” she said.

“And for us to be able to have accurate test results at ma-isolate natin agad ang may sakit ay ito po ang inirerekomenda natin ngayon,” she added.

Vergeire said the proposal has yet to be approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The Philippine government has imposed a ban on travelers from India, including Filipinos, until May 14 to prevent the entry of a coronavirus variant believed to be contributing to the surge in COVID-19 infections in India.

Duterte won’t compromise on quarantine protocols for returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   April 21, 2021

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.

Duterte wants RT-PCR test, isolation in PhilHealth insurance coverage

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has expanded the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) for COVID-19 patients.

To ease patients’ financial burden, the President asked PhilHealth to include COVID-19 testing, isolation, and hospitalization services into the agency’s health insurance coverage.

“Nagbigay ng direktiba ang ating presidente sa Philippine Health Insurance Corp. na kasama sa health insurance coverage ang RT-PCR test, isolation sa accredited community isolation units at hospitalization para sa mild at critical cases ng COVID-19,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

The Palace spokesman said under the country’s testing protocol, RT-PCR tests will be subsidized by the government through PhilHealth for medical and economic frontliners, and those with high exposure to COVID-19 as well as those with symptoms.

“At most, ang babayaran ninyo po ay P300. So, ang bayad po diyan ay Philhealth kaya nga po bilyon-bilyong, ang single largest expenditure ng Philhealth. Hindi naman po tama na sabihin natin na hindi tayo nakakapagbigay ng libreng testing sa ating mga kababayan,” Roque said.

“Wala pong dahilan para hindi Philhealth ang magbayad ng inyong PCR test kung qualified ka makakuha ng PCR test,” he added.

Roque also stressed that PhilHealth should cover patients staying in temporary tents in hospitals and consider them as cases of in-patient care. -MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)


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