COVID testing, quarantine protocols adjusted; Palace seeks public support

Published December 3, 2021, 1:41 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang has asked Filipinos for their understanding in case their loved ones abroad will have difficulty coming home for Christmas, saying the country had to adjust testing and quarantine protocols anew to delay the entry of the coronavirus (COVID-19) Omicron variant.


Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement after the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases came up with new testing and quarantine protocols for travelers from non-red list countries on Thursday.

In his press briefing on Friday, December 3, Nograles hoped that the public will understand why the IATF had to make its decision to adjust the travel and quarantine restrictions anew.

“Sa ating mga kababayan na may kamag-anak o minamahal abroad na may balak umuwi ngayong Pasko, sana ay maintindihan po natin kung bakit natin kailangang i-revise ang guidelines (To those who have relatives or loved ones abroad who have plans to return to the Philippines this Christmas, we hope you understand why we had to revise the guidelines),” he said.

“Hindi ito para pahirapan ang ating mga kababayan (This is not to add to the burden of our countrymen). This is for our good, our protection. This is for public health because we still are facing this public health emergency,” he added.

The acting presidential spokesman explained that the government’s pandemic task force is just being cautious, especially with the threat of the Omicron variant.

“Whatever changes or amendments adopted are prompted by a continuous assessment of prevailing conditions. Tuloy-tuloy po ang assessment natin ng mga developments sa buong mundo (We are continuously assessing the developments in the whole world),” Nograles said.

“When there are developments that merit the adoption of a more cautious approach to the entry of individuals from overseas, the IATF will recommend what is necessary to safeguard the health of our people. Uulitin ko po, ginagawa po natin ito para protektahan ang ating mga kababayan (I repeat, we are doing this to protect our people),” he added.

Nograles, meanwhile, asked arriving international travelers to strictly follow the protocols. He likewise reminded implementing agencies to follow the guidelines to the letter.

“Lahat po ng ating mga law enforcers, lahat ng ating mga implementing agencies natin (All our law enforcers and implementing agencies) are under strict orders to follow to the letter lahat ng mga guidelines at resolution na ipinapalabas ng IATF (all the guidelines and resolutions issued by the IATF),” he said.

“Anyone who violates, they will face the consequences,” he added.

On Thursday, December 2, the IATF approved the new testing and protocols for travelers from non-red list countries. These include:

  • Having a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to the flight to the Philippines
  • Undergoing facility-based quarantine taken on the fifth day for fully vaccinated travelers, or taken on the seventh day for the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals
  • Home quarantine until the 14th day from the date of their arrival to the Philippines