No more COVID-19 test for returning OFWs from low-risk countries — DOH
MANILA, Philippines — Returning Filipinos from countries classified with low- to middle-prevalence of COVID-19 are no longer required to undergo coronavirus testing, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.
In an online media forum, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said returning Filipinos from low-risk countries will not be required to undergo testing at points of entry, provided that they would strictly follow the minimum health standards and pass the symptoms screening.
She noted that the identification of low- to middle-prevalence countries will be based on the World Health Organization (WHO) weekly classification.
The Health official explained that the move is meant to “rationalize the protocols” as returning Filipinos are being tested multiple times before they can enter their home provinces.
“Our experts agreed and they are saying na lahat naman ng tao na darating especially from those areas na wala naman talagang ganun na transmission, ito ngang low- to mid- prevalence, the probability that this individual to have this certain disease ay maliit lang,” Vergeire said.
(Our experts agreed and they are saying that all people who come from those areas that do not have much transmission of the disease or those with low to middle prevalence, the probability that this individual to have the disease is small.)
“Kasi bago naman sila umalis sa kanilang areas tinetest sila. Most of these OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), they bring with them their RT-PCR results which are two to three days prior to travel,” she added.
(Because before they left their countries of origin they were tested. Most of these OFWs, they bring with them their RT-PCR results which are two to three days prior to travel.)
She further said, “When they arrive here, the experts recommend that we just do symptoms check. When they are cleared, when they do not have symptoms even in the past 14 days, they can be allowed to go back to their provinces.”
However, the Health official stressed that returnees need to comply with whatever the local governments will require for them to enter their provinces.
She likewise noted that the decision is not related to the ongoing issue between the Philippine Red Cross and PhilHealth.
The Red Cross stopped its coronavirus testing services that are chargeable to PhilHealth due to the latter’s failure to settle its overdue balance of over P930 million.
The humanitarian organization, which accounts to over 25% of the country’s total coronavirus tests, is testing specimens of returning OFWs, those arriving in airports and seaports, those in mega swabbing facilities, and frontline health and government workers.
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