COVID-19 protocols in Ilocos Norte remain unchanged for fully vaccinated travelers
LAOAG CITY — Ilocos Norte province will not change its health and travel protocols even for those who are fully vaccinated, officials said Friday, July 9.
Ryan Remigio, Ilocos Norte government consultant on border and external affairs, told the Inquirer in a phone interview that health protocols remain under “status quo” amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the province in the past weeks.
This means that fully vaccinated persons traveling to Ilocos Norte would still have to follow health protocols that include mandatory COVID-19 testing and a medical triage at the provincial borders, according to Remigio.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) on Friday said local governments could choose to accept legitimate COVID-19 vaccination cards instead of the RT-PCR testing requirement for interzonal travel.
Remigio, who also serves as Ilocos Norte’s focal person to the League of Provinces of the Philippines, said the provincial health task force would have to weigh the “health and economic risks” of the latest IATF protocol before fully implementing it.
Without a centralized online system of records of vaccinated persons, the “validation” of the vaccination cards is seen as the biggest challenge as it could be prone to tampering, Remigio said.
Remigio cited the initial experience of La Union province earlier this week when he learned that it took around 10 to 15 minutes for border personnel to clarify the legitimacy of every vaccination card from the facility or local government that inoculated the travelers.
However, he said that the latest resolution is a “welcome development” as it could be a strategy to open up economies gradually and even address vaccine hesitancy.
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