Saturday, September 25, 2021

New IATF directive sets swab on Day 7

COMING HOME. In 2020, when quarantine restrictions began to relax, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) locked down in Manila for two months arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA). Immediately upon arrival, they underwent a Covid test and sent to different quarantine facilities for several days until they were allowed to go home. This time, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia wants to spare OFWs the burden of being quarantined, and she is standing pat on her rules. (SunStar File)

THE Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH) to test travelers entering the country for coronavirus disease only on the seventh day of their arrival.

Under IATF Resolution No. 114, RT-PCR testing for Sars-CoV-2 on arriving travelers shall be conducted on the seventh day, with Day 1 being the day of arrival, according to a post on Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.’s Facebook page Friday, May 7, 2021.

Resolution No. 114 states that “all arriving travelers shall undergo 14-day quarantine upon arrival,” with the first 10 days to be observed in a quarantine facility and the remainder to be completed under home quarantine in the travelers’ respective local government units of destination.

“Notwithstanding a negative test result, the arriving traveler shall complete the facility-based quarantine period of 10 days,” the resolution said.

The Department of Transportation is tasked to ascertain that swabbing is done on “exactly the seventh day” and that results are delivered on the ninth day.

The new rules apply to all inbound travelers to the Philippines regardless of their vaccination status.

Under the previous protocols, IATF Resolution 113, issued on April 29, 2021, foreign nationals allowed entry were required to have only a pre-booked accommodation for at least seven nights in an accredited quarantine hotel/facility, and to be tested for Covid-19 on the sixth day from date of arrival.

Returning Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers were also required to check into a quarantine facility upon arrival and take a Covid-19 test on the sixth day from arrival.

In recommending the testing on the seventh day of arrival, the DOH had earlier said there was a better chance of passengers testing positive on those days as the viral load was high on the seventh or eighth day of infection.

In Cebu Friday, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said she would stick to her Executive Order 17 signed on March 30, 2021 that defines the protocols for repatriated overseas Filipino workers and returning overseas Filipinos traveling to the Province of Cebu.

They would be tested upon arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and released from hotel quarantine immediately upon receiving a negative RT-PCR test result.

“I have already stated my position on the matter under EO 17,” Garcia said.

Garcia is invoking Section 105 of the Local Government Code which states that “in cases of epidemics, pestilence, and other widespread public health dangers, the Secretary of Health may, upon the direction of the President and in consultation with the local government unit concerned, temporarily assume direct supervision and control over health operations in any local government unit for the duration of the emergency, but in no case exceeding a cumulative period of six months.”

“With the concurrence of the local government unit concerned, the period for such direct national control and supervision may be further extended,” the law further states. (ANV)


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