New quarantine, test rules set for incoming travelers
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will enforce new testing and quarantine rules for travelers from other countries beginning Feb. 1 to curb the spread of more infectious variants of the coronavirus.
Under the new rules laid down by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, all incoming passengers, regardless of origin, will be required to go into isolation in quarantines upon arrival in the Philippines.
They will take reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests five days after their arrival, unless they show Covid-19 symptoms earlier.
Local gov’t monitoring
Those who will test negative will be endorsed to their local governments, which will monitor their condition during the remainder of their 14-day quarantine period.
“Appropriate patient management shall be observed as outlined in the guidelines of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Health Omnibus Guidelines on Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment and Reintegration Strategies for Covid-19,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told a news briefing on Wednesday.
The new testing and quarantine rules were issued in the wake of restrictions imposed on travelers from 35 countries where cases of the more infectious British variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 were reported.
Another highly infectious variant of SARS-CoV-2, the Covid-19 virus, has been detected in South Africa.
The travel restrictions are effective until Jan. 31, unless extended by the government.
So far, the Philippines has recorded 17 cases of the British variant, of which 12 have been found in Bontoc, Mountain Province. (See related story in Regions, Page A10.)
The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said there was “no strong evidence” of community transmission of the British variant in the country for now.
The emergence of the variant has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to reverse the task force’s recommendation to allow minors aged 10 to 14 years old to go out in areas under modified general community quarantine.
Roque said the task force had “postponed the relaxation” of the restrictions on children in compliance with the President’s directive.
Looking for index case
The DOH said on Wednesday it was looking at eight Filipino migrant workers who went home to the Cordillera Administrative Region to find the source of the British variant cases reported in Bontoc.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH would get the Covid-19 tests of the eight migrants to see who among them was the first carrier.
With more than 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, the Philippines is one of the hardest-hit countries in Asia.
On Wednesday, the DOH reported 2,245 additional infections, the highest daily increase since Nov. 8, 2020, when 2,442 new cases were recorded. Wednesday’s cases brought the overall number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country to 518,407.
Baguio City and Cebu City had the highest number of new infections, each reporting 121 cases, followed by Davao City (102), Quezon City (87) and Pangasinan (81).
The DOH said 140 more patients had recovered, raising the total number of Covid-19 survivors to 475,542. But the death toll rose to 10,481, as 90 other patients had succumbed to the severe respiratory disease.
The deaths and recoveries left the country with 32,384 active cases, of which 84.5 percent were mild, 9.2 percent asymptomatic, 0.48 percent moderate, 2.4 percent severe, and 3.4 percent critical. —WITH A REPORT FROM PATRICIA DENISE M. CHIU
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