IATF suspends shortened COVID testing, quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated close contacts

Published August 11, 2021, 10:25 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

The government’s pandemic task force has temporarily suspended the protocols that allowed the shortened quarantine period for fully vaccinated close contacts of probable and confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang announced Wednesday, August 11.

A temporary health facility is built by the government at the Eva Macapagal Terminal in Manila (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement amid the rising number of COVID-19 infections in the country as the government continued to try to arrest the transmission of the more contagious Delta variant.

In a statement, Roque said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases made the move as part of the government’s response to different COVID-19 strains.

“The decision to temporarily suspend said protocol is part of the continued implementation of proactive measures to slow down the surge in COVID-19 cases and to stop the further spread of the variants,” he said Wednesday, August 11.

The said protocol, which is contained in IATF Resolution No. 124-B issued on July 2, 2021, stated that fully vaccinated individuals may undergo a shortened seven-day quarantine period, provided they remain asymptomatic for the whole seven days.

With the suspension, the testing and quarantine protocols of fully vaccinated individuals shall now comply with the Department of Health (DOH) Department Memorandum No. 2020-0512 issued on November 26, 2020.

The said DOH memorandum stated that all close contacts of probable and confirmed cases and travelers shall be placed under a 14-day quarantine period.

Close contacts who remained asymptomatic for at least 14 days from the date of exposure can discontinue their quarantine. In case they develop symptoms or test positive for coronavirus, they shall be isolated and shall be admitted and treated in an appropriate facility.

The DOH defined close contacts as having exposure within the two days before and the 14 days after the onset of symptoms of the probable or confirmed case through the following:

  • Face-to-face contact within one meter and for at least 15 minutes
  • Direct physical contact
  • Direct care for a patient without using personal protective equipment
  • Other situations as indicated by local risk assessments

The government has placed many areas in the country under stricter quarantine measures, including Metro Manila which was placed under a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until August 20, due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.

To date, the country has detected a total of 1,676,156 COVID-19 cases with 1,567,920 recoveries and 29,220 deaths.

As of August 10, 2021, the DOH has reported 79,016 active coronavirus cases.