THE Department of Health (DOH) said Friday, January 28, the public has nothing to worry about with the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) decision to forego of the mandatory facility-based quarantine for fully vaccinated arriving international travelers.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the IATF’s decision has scientific basis and the nod of the experts.

“Ito po ay base sa pag-aaral ng ating IATF on Covid-19 variants una naipakita po nung genetic analysis na sinagawa ng Philippine Genome Center na ‘yung mga returning overseas Filipinos, who had been detected with Omicron walang naging forward transmission, ibig sabihin hindi nanggaling sa karamihan ng ating overseas returning Filipinos ang mga community transmission natin sa komunidad,” she said in a Palace press briefing.

(This is based on the studies conducted by the IATF on Covid-19 variants. It was shown through genetic analysis done by the Philippine Genome Center that there was no forward transmission of the Omicron variant, meaning the transmission is not from the returning overseas Filipinos.)

“Nakita din po sa pag-aaral ng ating epidemiology bureau na mababa ang kaso ng overseas Filipinos na nagpopositibo kumpara sa komunidad. Pangatlo, sabi ng mga expert it does not make sense anymore because ‘yung transmission sa bansa ay mataas na, baka mas mataas pa doon sa mga pinanggalingan bansa ng mga travelers,” she added.

(Our epidemiology bureau also found out that there are few overseas Filipinos who tested positive, compared to local cases. Experts also said that it does not make sense anymore because the transmission in the Philippines is already high, and might even be higher than other countries.)

Vergeire said the country should instead strengthen efforts and interventions in the community.

Starting February 1, fully vaccinated arriving international travelers, either foreigners or Filipinos, from non-visa-required countries are no longer required to undergo facility-based quarantine.

Arriving travelers may go straight to their destinations upon arrival in the country provided they will self-monitor within the first seven days.

By February 16, only fully vaccinated foreign travelers will be allowed to enter the country and they are also no longer required to undergo facility-based quarantine.

As of January 27, a total of 1,153 Omicron variants have been detected in the Philippines.

Of the 618 additional Omicron cases detected recently, 497 were local cases, while 121 were from returning overseas Filipinos.

A total of 13 cases were still active, two have died, 560 were tagged as recovered, and 43 were still being verified.

The country’s Omicron death toll stood at five. (SunStar Philippines)