SIX travelers from India have tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 and their specimens have been submitted to the University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) for sequencing.
In an online briefing, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the six patients were allowed to enter the country because they were among 110 travelers who arrived before the travel ban took effect at 12:01 a.m. of April 29.
Vergeire said they were still trying to locate six other travelers. She did not elaborate.
As approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, all travelers from India who arrived before the effectivity of the ban were required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days regardless of their RT-PCR test result.
The travel ban, which will be in effect until May 14, covers all travelers from India, including Filipinos, and those with travel history to India in the past 14 days.
Meanwhile, Vergeire said in a television interview that the DOH will recommend the revision of the testing protocol for travelers from other countries.
DOH is pushing for the conduct of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) testing on the seventh or eighth day from arrival.
Based on the IATF Resolution No. 113, Filipino citizens and certain foreign nationals are allowed entry in the Philippines effective May 1.
It states that except for those qualified under Republic Act No. 6768 or the Act Instituting the Balikbayan Program, foreign travelers must have a valid and existing visa at the time of entry.
They must also have a pre-booked accommodation for at least seven nights in an accredited quarantine hotel/facility, and must be tested for Covid-19 on the sixth day from date of arrival.
Foreign arrivals are also subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.
Under existing guidelines, returning Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers are also required to check into a quarantine facility upon arrival and take a Covid-19 test on the sixth day from arrival.
Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, in a separate statement, stressed that only foreigners with valid and existing visas, excluding those from India, are allowed to enter the country.
“Foreign tourists are still prohibited from entering the country and said restriction remains effective until it is lifted by the IATF,” Morente said in a statement.
He explained that the country only reverted to implementing the international travel guidelines that existed prior to March 22, when the government reimposed a ban on the entry of all foreigners due to a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.
“The recent easing of travel restrictions applies only to those aliens who were allowed to come here before March 22 and they should have valid and existing visas at the time of their arrival in our ports of entry,” Morente said.
For domestic travelers, Resolution No. 101 in February 2021 removed the Covid-19 test requirement, except when required by the LGU of their destination.
A domestic traveler is also not required to undergo quarantine unless he or she manifests symptoms of Covid-19 upon arrival. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)