Palace adviser bats for antigen tests, home quarantine for international arrivals

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 20 2022 08:42 PM

MANILA - A palace adviser said the Philippines should re-examine its pandemic protocols for international travel and remove stringent RT-PCR tests and lengthy hotel quarantines.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said this was needed to help the airline and travel industry.

Concepcion noted that currently, all arriving passengers must test negative from an RT-PCR taken 48 hours before departure. Except for fully vaccinated travelers coming from the 32 countries in its Green list, all passengers get swabbed again after having spent at least five days in facility-based quarantine, he said. 

Instead of an RT-PCR test, Concepcion proposes an antigen test taken 24 hours prior to departure, saying this is more practical because RT-PCR tests are more expensive and results take longer to arrive. As an additional safeguard, he suggested conducting second antigen tests upon arrival.

And instead of facility quarantines, Concepcion said home-based quarantines are preferable. 

“Other countries seem to have already accepted the fact that COVID is here to stay. Maybe it’s time we practice living with COVID or else the Philippine economy will suffer and along with it, its MSMEs,” he said.

Concepcion said among the countries that have eased restrictions are Switzerland and Thailand.

He said the US does not require specifically the use of RT-PCR tests or facility quarantines for arriving passengers. Inbound passengers to the US only need a negative result from an antiviral test, not necessarily an RT-PCR, taken no more than 24 hours before departure. 

Concepcion said airlines will survive the pandemic depending on government policy. 

“This is also quite true of other industries that are downstream from air travel, not the least of which are the tourism and hotel and restaurant sectors. Many MSMEs depend on the trickle-down business generated by air travel,” he said.

“Our economy can’t shut itself to the world as our country’s debts continue to mount. Time is not on our side,” he said.

 

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