MANILA — Onsite workers in both public and private sectors in areas under Alert Level 2 and above who have yet to receive their vaccines against the coronavirus must undergo COVID-19 testing under the new rules set by the government, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Tuesday.
According to the updated guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Monday, they are required to take RT-PCR tests once every two weeks, or weekly antigen tests.
Employers in the public sector, including local government units, may cover the cost of the test, subject to the availability of funds, and civil service, accounting, and auditing rules and regulations, said Andanar.
Those with COVID-19 infection within 90 days and those with alternative work arrangements that do not require onsite reporting are exempted from the testing requirement.
The said testing requirement is waived in areas under Alert Level 1, "subject to the implementation of clinical-based management, including symptomatic testing", noted Andanar.
The latest IATF rule also mandates all establishments and employers in both public and private sectors in areas with sufficient supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to require their onsite workers to be vaccinated against the respiratory disease, he said.
Health experts have said that COVID-19 vaccines prevent infected people from becoming seriously ill or getting hospitalized.
More than 70.35 million people in the Philippines have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, as of Sunday, according to data from the Department of Health. Some 14.9 million have received their booster shots.
The country has so far received a total of 245.3 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccine brands, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said. The first delivery was made on Feb. 28, 2021 and was immediately rolled out the day after.
The Philippines has seen a rise in newly confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past few days, which authorities attribute to the detection of sub-variants of the coronavirus, waning immunity, and non-compliance with minimum health protocols.
As of Monday, the country has recorded a total of more than 3.7 million COVID-19 cases, of which some 7,000 are active, DOH data showed. The first confirmed infection was logged on Jan. 30, 2020 in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.