MANILA — A Palace adviser and a health undersecretary rejected on Saturday proposals to bring back the mandatory 7-day quarantine for arriving passengers amid the detection of more transmissible omicron subvariants.
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said this is no longer necessary since almost all countries globally have dropped this rule.
"So we don’t need to go back to the 7-day quarantine kasi walang pupunta dito. Babagsak uli ang tourism. Eh kakabangon lang ng mga maliit na negosyante dito, na iyong negosyo nila ay nakasalalay dito sa tourism sector," Concepcion said in a public briefing.
He added that what is important is the COVID-19 vaccination status of those entering the country.
Government dropped the mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for all vaccinated travelers as early as January this year. The country has also suspended its "green," "yellow," and "red" COVID-19 risk classifications for countries, territories and jurisdictions.
"So we don’t need to go to that extent ‘no ang tingin ko. Hindi naman itong variant na bago, itong Omicron pa rin, highly contagious pero ang kalalabasan naman nito ay mild and especially if vaccinated, mas maganda iyong wall of immunity natin ‘no," he said.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, during the same televised briefing, said the country needs to "live with the virus" amid the presence of omicron subvariants.
For the health official, despite the detection of the subvariants, the country's hospitals were not filled up by severe to critical COVID-19 cases. It is important to be vaccinated to avoid this, said Vergeire.
"By saying that, alam natin na hindi naman po mawawala ang impeksiyon ‘no dito po sa ating bansa or nor even doon sa ibang bansa, talagang magtutuloy-tuloy po ang COVID-19 virus, iyong transmission," said Vergeire.
"Kailangan lang po talaga we are all aware, hindi po tayo puwedeng bumalik sa sasara-bubukas, sasara-bubukas. Kailangan nating mamuhay kasama ng virus na ito, kailangan lagi tayong aware and protected – at alam po natin kung paano tayo mapuproteksiyunan – by having our vaccinations and doing our minimum public health standards."
The country reopened its borders in April to all foreign travelers. Philippines logged less than 200 new COVID-19 cases for the 4th straight day on Thursday.