Note: This article has been updated to include details of a memorandum that Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued on May 20, 2021, a copy of which was furnished SunStar on June 5.
(UPDATED) The Department of Health (DOH) will continue to push for the enforcement nationwide of the international arrival protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a media forum Friday, June 4, 2021, that they were finalizing their memorandum for President Rodrigo Duterte, which will contain their recommendations supported by evidence following a critique of Cebu Province’s quarantine and testing protocols for returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“Atin pa rin pong ibinibigay na posisyon ng Department of Health is ‘yon pong napagkasunduan sa IATF, which are all based on evidence and based on science, at ito po ang ating isinusulong na maipatupad sa lahat ng rehiyon sa ating bansa para po ma-break natin ang chain of transmission nitong Covid-19,” Vergeire said.
The IATF, however, approved during its meeting Thursday, June 3, the establishment of green lanes for returning Filipinos who had been fully vaccinated in the Philippines.
This new policy reduces the facility-based quarantine period for fully vaccinated Filipinos to seven days.
“No need to test anymore. They will just be monitored for seven days. ‘Pag hindi sila nag-develop ng sintomas, maari na silang umuwi at doon na lang po sila sa bahay magtutuloy ng pagmo-monitor ng self (If they don’t develop symptoms of Covid-19, they will be allowed to go home and do self-monitoring)," Vergeire said.
This will amend Resolution No. 114 of IATF, which requires all inbound international passengers to undergo facility-based quarantine for 10 days and an additional four days under home quarantine, if negative for the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Each traveler will be swabbed on the seventh day. If the result is negative, the traveler is still required to complete 10 days in a quarantine facility. Those who test positive will be referred to temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, or to hospitals.
The DOH was asked to critique Cebu’s arrival protocols, which deviate from the IATF policy.
Executive Order No. 17 of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia requires the conduct of a swab test on ROFs and OFWs upon arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. They will be in quarantine only while waiting for the test result.
If negative for Sars-CoV-2, the ROF or OFW will be allowed to go home. The LGUs have been ordered to not impose any additional requirements.
A memorandum that Garcia issued on May 20, a copy of which was furnished SunStar on June 5, modified this directive to require transiting ROFs and OFWs to be swabbed upon arrival. If negative, they will be allowed to proceed to their destination outside Cebu and their LGU would be responsible for the second RT-PCR test on the seventh day.
Those who are residents of Cebu shall also be swabbed upon arrival and if negative, they will be sent home but must stay under home quarantine for a total of 14 days from arrival. They will undergo another RT-PCR test to be conducted by their LGU on the seventh day. Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams will monitor them.
All arriving ROFs and OFWs will stay in a quarantine hotel while waiting for the result of their swab test upon arrival.
On May 27, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued a memorandum directing the enforcement of the IATF protocols in all ports of entry nationwide.
It also ordered the rerouting of international flights bound for Mactan to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from May 29 to June 5, 2021.
With the rerouting, Cebu-bound passengers will have to abide by the IATF protocols. They will be allowed to proceed to Cebu only if they test negative for the virus and complete the 10-day quarantine. Upon reaching home, they must complete four more days of home quarantine. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)