Palace: Health experts were consulted in decision to lift quarantine requirement
MANILA, Philippines — Health experts were consulted when the government decided to lift the quarantine requirement of incoming passengers from “green list” countries and they assured that there is minimal risk of COVID-19 transmission there, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the remark after Health Secretary Francisco Duque raised concerns on the latest policy, saying he was not consulted in the decision.
Duque said he was not present during the meeting where the decision was made and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año were also absent.
While Roque said he was also not present in the meeting, he verified that health experts were there and were consulted, including infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvaña.
“Siya (Salvaña) ang nag-manifest na minimal naman daw ang risk galing sa green countries kasi kaya sila naging green countries, napakababa ng kaso ng COVID tapos meron pang RT PCR test,” he said in a Palace briefing.
(Dr. Salvaña was the one who manifested that the risk of transmission from travelers from green countries is minimal since green countries have low cases of COVID-19 and passengers are still required to present a negative RT PCR test result.)
“Nandoon din si Health Undersecretary Vergeire at si Dr. Althea de Guzman ng DOH Epidemiology Bureau,” he added.
(Health Usec. Vergeire and Dr. Althea are also present in the meeting.)
Roque also reasoned that there are not many travelers who are coming from “green countries,” which include New Zealand, Taiwan, Syria, mainland China.
Starting October 14, facility-based quarantine will no longer be required for fully vaccinated inbound Filipino and foreign travelers from “green lanes” as long as they present their negative COVID-19 test.
The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test of arriving travelers should be taken within 72 hours before leaving the country of origin.
Roque said the government’s pandemic task force, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, will review the list of green countries and will release the revisions on Friday, Oct. 16.
“Wala namang permanent na resolution, kung mayroon mang tumaas na mga kaso sa mga bansang green list, pwede namang repasuhin ang polisiya,” he said.
(There is no permanent resolution. The government can review and revise the list of countries as they monitor the COVID-19 prevalence in the countries.)
Duque earlier said he is concerned about the lifting of the quarantine requirement since the Philippines’ national vaccination coverage is still only at 30%.
He said he has always supported the implementation of a facility-based quarantine.
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