Health expert cautions vs proposal to remove COVID testing, other requirements for local travel

Published February 24, 2021, 4:32 PM

by Analou de Vera

An infectious disease expert is not in favor of the proposal to remove testing requirements for local travelers amid the country’s current trend of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. 

Tourists cross the hanging bridge at Cloud 9 Sports and Leisure club in Antipolo, Rizal (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Sa tingin ko hindi pa tayo ready sa ganitong sitwasyon na tanggalin natin itong mga health certificates at testing requirements dahil medyo ang kaso natin ay hindi pa bumababa (I think we are not yet ready in this situation to remove these health certificates and testing requirements because our (number of new) cases is not yet decreasing),” said San Lazaro Hospital Infectious Diseases Head Dr. Rontgene Solante during the “Laging Handa” press briefing on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

“Unang-una, noon dumami ang mga COVID sa probinsya dahil galing sa mga ibang areas na mataas ang COVID cases (First of all, the cases of COVID-19 previously increased in the provinces because (some travelers) came from areas with high number of COVID cases),” he added. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said that they are eyeing to remove COVID-19 testing and the issuance of travel authority as requirements for travel. 

In order to boost domestic tourism, the DILG and the Department of Tourism (DOT) said they are working to streamline travel procedures and requirements in tourist destinations.

COVID-19 update

The Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,557 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 566,420.

The DOH said that 5.5 percent or 30,970 cases of the overall tally remain active. Of the active cases, 88.5 percent have mild symptoms, 5.9 percent are asymptomatic, 2.5 percent are in critical condition,  2.4 percent are in severe condition, and 0.80 percent are in moderate condition. 

It was also reported that 22 more patients died, bringing the death toll to 12,129. 

Also, there were 392 additional patients who recovered from the viral illness, pushing the total number of survivors to 523,321.