Health official: Premature to remove COVID-19 test result as requirement

Published July 8, 2021, 5:00 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – While vaccination cards are already acceptable in interzonal travels, health officials here believe that presenting results of COVID-19 tests remains critical in preventing the spread of the deadly virus.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of the Visayas Vaccination Operations Center, said ditching the presentation of COVID-19 test is still premature especially that the country’s vaccination remains in the early stage.

“Testing is still one of the mainstays in this pandemic response. It is too premature to remove this as a requirement considering that our vaccination is in the early phases yet,” Loreche said.

“To date, our national data shows 13.15 percent coverage ratio for the first dose (9,208,070) and a 4.24 percent (2,971,367) coverage ratio for second dose,” added Loreche.

Loreche, also the chief pathologist of the Department of Health-Central Visayas (DOH Region 7), said it is not the right time yet to ease travel protocols even for fully vaccinated individuals.

“More so, that although vaccines are safe and effective in preventing severe disease, a fully vaccinated person may still contract coronavirus and may transmit it. The occurrence and appearance of variants of concern can further complicate the vaccination program. Vigilance and continuance of all our processes including testing should be maintained, until such time that we have full control of this pandemic,” she said.

Dr. Van Philip Baton, DOH Region 7 medical program coordinator for infectious diseases, said vaccination card is an alternative but local government units can still require the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction result based on the Inter-Agency Task Force Resolution 124-B.

“We agree that vigilance is still the name of the game especially in the event when the implementation of policies is not yet uniformed and the data management infrastructure is still in the process of being finalized by the concerned government agencies,” Baton said.