MANILA (UPDATE) — The Department of Transportation said the Philippines should be cautious as it prepares to welcome back travelers from China, which is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 infections.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the country should adopt protocols set by other countries in dealing with travelers coming from a destination with high cases of COVID-19, such as China.
Bautista noted that Japan has been implementing measures for Chinese travelers.
Japan has announced that it would require COVID-19 tests on arrival for travelers from mainland China after Beijing announced it would end inbound quarantine requirements.
Bautista said "COVID is still there" and that protecting Filipinos should be a priority.
"We should be cautious, we should be careful,” Bautista said.
The Transport chief said that the IATF, of which the DOTr is a member, should discuss preventive measures.
He suggested that antigen tests be done on arriving travelers from China to ensure that they do not have COVID-19.
“Dapat siguro mapag-usapan mabuti 'yan para ma-implement natin 'yung (That should be discussed thoroughly so that we can implement the) right protocol in accepting here in the Philippines,” Bautista added.
In an ANC interview Thursday, Transportation Undersecretary Steven Pastor said the DOTr would have to coordinate with the IATF and Department of Health with regards to such requirements.
"At the moment I am aware COVID testing is no longer required as we have implemented before," he said.
"But I think this will be thoroughly discussed through the IATF and of course, the DOTr will abide by the regulations that will be recommended by our health experts and even the IATF," he added.
In January, Philippine Airlines will resume its flight between Manila and Xiamen, China.
This resumption of flights would mark the flag carrier's reopening its scheduled service to mainland China almost 3 years after management paused the service due to COVID-related border restrictions.
It said that starting with one flight per week, operating every Friday, the PAL route to Xiamen will build up frequencies over time, in line with the easing of restrictions and applicable government authorizations.
Filipino-Chinese businessmen meanwhile said the tourism sector would be boosted by the arrival of thousands of Chinese tourists.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, China was the country's second-largest source of tourist arrivals following South Korea.