14-day quarantine for incoming int’l travelers ’best strategy’ against entry of COVID-19 variants — DOH official

Published June 22, 2021, 2:40 PM

by Jhon Aldrin Casinas

An official of the Department of Health (DOH) is pushing for strict border protocols for arriving international travelers in a bid to prevent the entry of more highly transmissible variants of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).


Dr. Alethea De Guzman, Director of the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau, has underscored the need for tighter border control and strict quarantine protocols for incoming travelers from abroad.

In a Palace briefing on Tuesday, June 22, De Guzman said that a 14-day quarantine for arriving international travelers has been considered as the “best strategy” to protect the country from the entry of additional variants of concern.

“Yung ating 10 plus four [days] quarantine na ngayon ay nakikita nating best strategy to protect us from entry of additional variants of concern (Our 10 plus 4 quarantine now seen as the best strategy to protect us from the entry of additional variants of concern),” she said.

“Ang maigting na border control ay nagbibigay sa atin ng oras para ang ating bansa ay mapababa ang mga kaso at mapataas pa ang ating vaccination coverage (Tight border control gives us time for our country to reduce cases and increase our vaccination coverage),” she added.

The Health department promotes a 10-day facility-based quarantine upon arrival, swab testing on the seventh day, and if negative, a four-day quarantine at a local government isolation facility, De Guzman said.

She explained that a 10-day quarantine upon arrival is needed for international travelers in order to reduce the risk of infection.

This is because an infected individual may still be asymptomatic in the first three days after exposure, and could still test negative in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

“Ang pag postive sa PCR o di kaya paglabas ng mga sintomas ay posibleng makita lima hanggang walong araw pagkatapos dumating (One will test positive in the PCR or the onset of symptoms is possible in five to eight days after arrival),” De Guzman said.

“Sa mga ganitong pagkakataon, kung tayo ay idi-discharge na o hindi na natin itutuloy ang quarantine, posible na later pa lumabas ang infection at doon tayo sa bahay magkaroon ng transmission (In such cases, if we are discharged or we do not undergo quarantine, it is possible that the infection will come out later and trigger an transmission at home),” she added.

She noted that the risk of a person to infect other people after undergoing a 10-day quarantine is as low as 0.3 percent to 1.4 percent compared to those who did not undergo quarantine.

“Nakikita din po natin sa pag-aaral na kung tatapusin natin hanggang sampung araw ng quarantine, yung risk na tayo ay mang-iinfect at magta-transmit pa ng ating infection to other people ay napaka-bababa na. It’s as low as .3 to 1.4 percent na lamang (We also see in the study that if we complete the 10-day quarantine, the risk that we can infect and transmit our infection to other people will be greatly reduced. It’s as low as 0.3 to 1.4 percent only),” De Guzman said.

“Kumpara kung unang araw pa lamang tayo ay idi-discharge na, the risk of transmission is as high as 60 percent and we want to minimize yung risk na ‘yun (Compared to if we were discharged on the first day, the risk of transmission is as high as 60 percent and we want to minimize that risk),” she added.