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Sunday, August 01, 2021
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DOH sticks to quarantine, testing protocols of IATF

HOME SAFELY. In this file photo, repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were stranded in Manila for weeks arrived in Cebu via the Mactan Cebu International Airport on May 26, 2020. (Contributed photo)

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 relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a media briefing Friday, June 4, 2021, that they were still 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).

Their position remains the same, she said.



“The Department of Health’s position remains. We shall continue to push for the enforcement of the policies approved by the IATF, which are all based on evidence and based on science, in all regions so we can break the chain of transmission of Covid-19,” Vergeire said.

The IATF, however, has agreed to establish a green lane and shorten to seven days from the current 10 days the facility-based quarantine period for returning Filipinos who had been fully vaccinated in the Philippines.

There will be no need to test them, except when they manifest or develop symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“No need to test anymore. They will just be monitored for seven days. If they don’t develop symptoms, they will be allowed to go home and do self-monitoring,” Vergeire said.

If the traveler develops symptoms within the quarantine period, he or she will be tested for Sars-CoV-2, and will be required to remain in facility-based quarantine for 10 days, or will be referred to a hospital.

Fully vaccinated

Vergeire said this new policy for fully vaccinated Filipinos is contained in Resolution 119, which was issued by the IATF on June 3.

The resolution defines a fully vaccinated person as having received a single-dose vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose vaccine against Covid-19 at least two weeks prior to arrival.

The vaccines used must be covered by an emergency use authorization (EUA) or a compassionate special permit issued by the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration.

The fully vaccinated traveler must present his or her vaccination card, which must have been verified prior to departure, to the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) representative for re-verification at the Department of Transportation One-Stop-Shop upon arrival.

The same resolution also directed the Department of Health, Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Foreign Affairs, and the National Economic and Development Authority to provide recommendations for further relaxing testing and quarantine protocols for certain classes of travelers.

Amendment

This amended IATF Resolution 114, which detailed the arrival protocols for inbound international travelers regardless of vaccination status.

With the new policy for fully vaccinated individuals, only those who have not received or completed the regimen for a Covid-19 vaccine will be required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 10 days and an additional four days under home quarantine, if negative for the virus.

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.

Cebu’s arrival protocols deviate from this IATF policy.

Executive Order No. 17 of Cebu Gov. 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.

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. (MVI/TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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