FOLLOWING the noticeable increase of daily recorded Covid-19 cases in Davao City, the City Covid-19 Task Force is discussing the possible reimplation of the mandatory reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for travelers entering the city.

Covid-19 Task Force Spokesperson Dr. Michelle Schlosser, however, said in an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio that this is still under discussion and there is still no definite date on its possible implementation.

The City Government discontinued the requirement of RT-PCR test results to all travelers entering the city last November 16, 2021, after the city was downgraded to Alert Level 2 due to the continuing downtrend of Covid-19 cases.

The “test before travel” policy, however, will still apply to all arriving international flight passengers at the Davao Airport, regardless of country of origin, as mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Schlosser said the city's policy on travel is dependent on the provisions stipulated on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) guidelines.

"We also have to marriage the IATF Alert Level na guidelines [sic]," the spokesperson said.

She added the city needs to follow the IATF policy to avoid confusion and panic.

Davao City is currently under Alert Level 2 until January 15.

Schlosser said there is no restriction on domestic and local travels under this alert level.

"With the domestic and local, i-discuss pa na siya (it will still be discussed) with the Covid-19 Task Force, but it has already been proposed by health cluster and our response cluster na ibalik ang (to reimpose the) RT-PCR test for local or interzonal," she said.

"The decision will still be finalized kung ma-discuss... and ma-weigh na siya (if this will be discussed and weighed) thoroughly sa (by the) Covid-19 Task Force," she added.

Recommendations on its implementation came following a surge in cases in Manila, which is being attributed to the Omicron variant.

The Department of Health-Davao Region (DOH-Davao) reported that the city has breached the 100-mark of active cases again with 155 in a single day.

Schlosser said the highly infectious variants -- Delta and Omicron -- might have something to do with the uptick in the positivity rate of the city.

While the city’s cases remain manageable, she said the increase of cases is still alarming.

Despite the still non-reimposition of the RT-PCR testing, Schlosser said the city's border control remains strict.

On restricting unvaccinated people

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his Talk to the People on Thursday night, January 6, ordered all barangay captains nationwide to restrain the movement of people who are unvaccinated against Covid-19.

Duterte said unvaccinated people who refuse to heed orders of authorities must be restrained to protect them and everybody in the community.

Schlosser said the city would possibly implement such a directive.She said the local government still has the right to create its own Covid-19 management strategy despite orders from the national government.

"But then again, dili gihapon ta (we are still not) totally astray from the guidelines that were given to us," she said.

The health official also said the city had already discussed the proposed mandatory requirement of the vaccination card at the border control checkpoints.

However, she said imposing a "no vax, no entry or exit" policy, which is currently being implemented by other local government units in the country, is a "sensitive" matter.

"Kung naa siguro'y (If there is a) need for that, it might happen. But at the moment, mas dako ang (we have a huge) concern of [on the issue of] discrimination," the spokesperson said.

She added that its provisions must be clarified, particularly on those who will be refused entry.

Schlosser also said the city is still not keen on imposing such a policy to non-city residents, considering that neighboring areas had not reached its targeted herd immunity.

In addition, he said closing the entire city from the unvaccinated people from neighboring areas would deter the economy.