Rapid antigen tests for inbound international travelers sought

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 01 2022 12:30 PM

Passengers check in for a flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City on January 3, 2022 while Metro Manila is under COVID-19 Alert Level 3. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Passengers check in for a flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City on January 3, 2022 while Metro Manila is under COVID-19 Alert Level 3. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News


MANILA - The government is urged Tuesday to require arriving international travelers to undergo rapid antigen tests after the facility-based quarantine requirement is removed for the fully-vaccinated, and as Metro Manila and nearby provinces deescaleted to Alert Level 2.

"Sana meron lang tayong medical safeguard, kahit walang facility-based quarantine at diretso sa bahay. Kahit man lang pagdating sa airport, bilhin nila yun, kung di natin malilibre ang kit na iyon. Tapos, within 48 hours po, gawin nila yun, tapos i-submit sa barangay captain nila," Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19, told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(I wished we had a medical safeguard if we no longer require facility-based quarantine and allow travelers to go home immediately. They can buy the kits at the airport if we can't provide it for free. Then they can do that within 48 hours and submit it to their village chairman.)

Arriving travelers are currently required to present a negative RT-PCR or confirmatory swab tests within 48 hours of their travel.

This, however, does not ensure that a traveler did not get infected during their flight, said Leachon.

He cited as an example a Filipino woman who arrived from the US and skipped her hotel quarantine last month upon arrival and went to a party in Poblacion, Makati.

"Papano po, katulad nung sa Poblacion lady ,nakatiyempo tayo, nagkaroon tayo ng superspreader event," he said.

(What if we'll have another case similar to the Poblacion lady, and then deal with a superspreader event?)

“Kung meron tayong ganitong klaseng calculated risk, 'wag natin i-abandona ang healthcare capacity at medical safeguards habang di pa tayo ayos."

(If we have this kind of calculated risk, let's not abandon the status of our healthcare capacity and medical safeguards.)

The Philippines on Monday recorded 14,456 new COVID-19 cases and a 28 percent positivity rate versus the hundreds of fresh infections and 2 percent positivity rate last month when Alert Level 2 was also imposed in the capital region, Leachon said.

The Department of Health has released guidelines on COVID-19 self-test kits following the Food and Drug Administration's approval of two brands.

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