Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman Senator Richard J. Gordon on Thursday, June 10, is urging the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to “reconsider the current protocols” which require a 14-day mandatory quarantine period.
Gordon issued this statement as a reaction to Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia’s swab upon arrival policy – specifically overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and returning overseas Filipinos.
This refers to Executive Order No. 17 and Provincial Ordinance No. 2021-04 of the Province of Cebu. Gordon lauded Governor Garcia and other Cebu local officials in coming out with their own initiative, cognizant of the Filipino culture of family visits.
Gordon agreed that such a long quarantine is “financially and psychologically burdensome” to OFWs and returning residents.
“Closer is better,” said Gordon – referring to the ability of local governments to better protect their people, especially island provinces like Cebu.
Gordon then suggested the need to review of policies to shorten the mandatory quarantine to seven (7) days upon arrival.
Meanwhile, Gordon does not recommend swab upon arrival – noting that this is not “recommended by health experts and not aligned with the national policy.”
He added that a 7-day quarantine should be “enough” where an Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test will be taken after this period.
If found negative, he noted that they can just complete the 14-day quarantine at home. “Conversely, those found positive will undergo the standard protocols of isolation and/or treatment,” the PRC added.
Gordon also suggested a gradual opening of bubble tourism sites to open the economy with proper protocols in place.
He added that any other businesses should also be allowed to open up hand-in-hand with aggressive vaccination.
Gordon also welcomed welcomed the easing of protocols for incoming passengers who have completed their vaccination in the Philippines that does away with a swab test upon arrival.
He even suggested adopting the same policy for tourists and foreign visitors who have been fully vaccinated in their countries of origin, provided the vaccination can be verified officially in the country where it was administered.
For Gordon, gradual opening up is preferable but with “strict safety protocols” should still have to be observed. Thus, he favored imposing hefty fines on those who violate the health protocols in place.