Gov’t prepares more COVID-19 testing facilities for inbound passengers

Published January 22, 2021, 9:09 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has pledged to find ways to make sure the country has sufficient testing facilities to screen inbound travelers from countries affected with the new coronavirus variants.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the assurance after the government’s pandemic task force approved a second testing requirement for incoming passengers to curb any spread of the illness.

“The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has resolved that incoming passengers shall be tested upon arrival and shall be quarantined until the result of the subsequent test administered on the fifth day is released,” Roque said in a statement Friday night.

“Having said this, we assure everyone that the government would find ways and means to have enough testing facilities that would be used or tapped to strictly comply with this resolution,” he added.

The country, which recently reported its first case of the new COVID-17 variant first detected in the United Kingdom, so far has 193 testing laboratories. More than 7 million persons have been tested with a cumulative positivity rate of 8.1 percent.

As of Jan. 22, the country’s cases of coronavirus have soared past the 500,000 level with 10,136 deaths.

Early Friday, Malacañang announced that the IATF has issued Resolution No. 95 amending the testing and quarantine protocols for incoming passengers from countries with travel restrictions due to the new COVID-19 variants. 

Under the resolution released by the Palace, the travelers will be tested when they arrive in the country. Another test will be conducted on the fifth day of their quarantine period.

“After which, said persons who yield a negative result from both COVID-19 tests shall be endorsed to their local government units of destination who shall then strictly monitor the remainder of the fourteen-day quarantine through their respective Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams,” the resolution read.

Prior to the IATF amendment, the government mandated passengers exempted from the travel ban on COVID-affected nations to undergo facility-based 14-day quarantine regardless of the results of their the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

Foreign passengers coming from countries with COVID-variants are prohibited from entering the country until January 31.

Exempted from the travel restrictions are Filipinos and their spouse and minor children, foreign diplomats and personnel of accredited international organizations, foreign dignitaries, and those for medical and emergency cases.