Tourist spots ‘hesitant’ to reopen without COVID labs, says DOT chief
MANILA, Philippines — A lot of tourist destinations are “still hesitant” to open unless there’s a COVID-19 testing laboratory in their areas, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Monday during the Senate hearing on the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
“We’re requesting from the DOH [Department of Health] the [list of] COVID testing centers,” she said, noting that operators of tourist destinations would want to see the list.
While stakeholders were willing to slowly open up tourism, the DOT chief still underscored the need to put in place the proper health and safety protocols.
“But again it won’t be the same numbers as before,” she said. “But we are making sure that we are…that the health and safety protocols are in place.”
She added that the DOT had started a pilot study of antigen testing.
In Baguio City, travelers were given both the antigen test and the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test and the results of the two were then compared.
But Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, advised Puyat to “be careful” since the DOH had “discredited” antigen testing.
“They don’t want it and I agree. And the real test is still PCR,” he added.
On Monday, the Philippines’ COVID-19 caseload reached 359,169. Of the number, 310,303 have already recovered while 6,675 have died.
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