DOH emphasizes importance of health screening on local travelers

Published October 28, 2021, 4:48 PM

by Analou de Vera

Kids swim at the famous beach front of Boracay Island when the country’s most famous beach destination reopened to local tourists in October 2020. (Tara Yap/File/Manila Bulletin)

The Department of Health (DOH) said it is still recommending that provincial local government units still strictly conduct a health screening for travelers going to their areas to prevent transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Ang DOH po ay hindi nagma-mandate po ng testing at our local borders. Pero ang atin pong nirirekomenda ay magkaroon po ng tinatawag nating clinical and exposure screening (The DOH does not mandate testing at our local borders. But what we recommend is to have what we call clinical and exposure screening),” said DOH-Epidemiology Bureau Director Dr. Alethea De Guzman on Thursday, Oct. 28.

“Ibig sabihin, iyong mga darating po, alamin natin, sila po ba ay mayroong any sign or symptom ng COVID; at ikalawa, sila po ba ay may recent exposure to a probable or confirmed case (It means, those travelers, let’s find out if they do have any signs or symptoms of COVID; and second, do they have recent exposure to a probable or confirmed case),” she added.

Conducting a health screening may help identify suspected COVID-19 cases, said De Guzman.

“Masasabi ng ating mga eksperto ang ganitong screening ay puwedeng maka-identify up to 90 percent of iyong mga suspect ng mga COVID-19 cases natin (Our experts can say that health screening can identify up to 90 percent of our suspected COVID-19 cases),” she said.

Some provincial local governments already decided to no longer require fully-vaccinated tourists to undergo reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

“Of course, we respect our LGUs, [that they] are able to implement their own protocols. Some of them, they do require RT-PCR testing pa rin regardless of vaccination status, while others will actually allow looser protocols for the fully vaccinated,” said De Guzman.

“So, ito naman po ay nasa discretion din ng ating LGU, subalit from the Department of Health, napakahalaga ng clinical and exposure screening at our borders (So, this is also at the discretion of our LGU, but from the Department of Health, clinical and exposure screening at our borders is very important),” she added.