By Aaron Recuenco
A medical clearance certificate (MCC) will soon be required for all domestic travelers before they are allowed to board commercial ships and planes, the Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield said on Sunday, June 14.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, said that there is a need to strictly implement the policy as an added protection to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“The MCC for travelers is one of the minimum health safety protocols that we have to continuously observe for the safety of everybody because as we have been saying even before, the threat of coronavirus infection is still high,” said Eleazar.
“We have to require the MCC for the peace of mind not only of all the ship and airline passengers but also of the local government officials and their constituents of the travelers’ points of destination across the country,” he added.
Eleazar said they have already recommended the policy to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) through Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who is the vice chairman of the Task Force.
The requirement of the MCC for all domestic travelers via ships and planes was recommended by local government units (LGUs) in a teleconference with airline industry stakeholders last week.
During the meeting, the MCC was seen as an added protection over possibility that some of the travelers could be virus carriers and might compromise the safety of other passengers.
Eleazar explained that the MCC as a travel requirement for domestic airline and ship passengers will also harmonize with the health safety protocols being implemented by the LGUs for the security of their respective constituents from COVID-19 that might be transmitted by the arriving travelers.
Based on the guidelines, locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and emergency travelers (limited to family and medical emergencies) have to secure a travel authority approved and issued by the local police chiefs and station commanders.
In applying for a travel authority at the help desks of all police stations, an MCC issued by the City or Municipal Health Office of the LGU-origin of the travelers must be submitted, and coordination with the receiving LGU is needed.
The “No MCC, No Boarding” policy covers even those classified under the authorized persons outside residence (APOR) whose domestic travels are allowed if they are work-related.
Obtaining an MCC, however, was made easy for APOR since aside from the City and Municipal Health Office, they can get it from the accredited hospitals and clinics of the Department of Health.
Eleazar stressed that the MCC serves as a good first layer of defense against the spread of the coronavirus since the health condition of the travelers are thoroughly screened before they are allowed to go out.
Since there were cases wherein the virus carrier is asymptomatic, Eleazar said the medical checkup conducted by the Municipal and City Health Office would be an assurance that a person is safe and fit to travel.