Cebu defends COVID-19 travel protocol, shorter in-facility quarantine

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2021 10:59 AM

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MANILA - The Cebu provincial government continues to test travelers for COVID-19 upon arrival and on the seventh day as it would be more expensive to keep them quarantined in a hotel facility for 10 days, a local health official said Wednesday.

Local officials had stood their ground Tuesday in a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force Against COVID-19, recommending that travelers stay in an isolation facility for 2 to 3 days while continuing the remaining quarantine period at home.

The national government, however, requires travelers from abroad to stay for 10 days at a quarantine facility and another 4 days in home quarantine, and undergo COVID-19 screening on the seventh day since arrival. 

Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) are activated to monitor the home quarantine of returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and migrant workers, said Dr. Mercedes Cañal, head of the epidemiology and surveillance unit of the health department in Central Visayas.

The BHERTs' surveillance "in the grassroots level is very good," she said.

"Mas expensive po ata 'yung ide-detain natin sila for more than 10 days considering itong ROFs, sila po ang nagbabayad," she told ANC's Headstart.

(It would be more expensive to detain them for more than 10 days considering the ROFs pay for their stay.)

"We’d like to entrust ROFs and OFWs na responsibility niyo 'to na 'wag kayong lalabas regardless na na-discharge ka na from the hotel and you went back to your respective LGUs. Hindi naman lahat ng bahay ng ROFs nakakapasa po as a quarantine facility, they have to be in their TTMF (temporary treatment medical facility)."

(We’d like to entrust ROFs and OFWs that it's their responsibility to stay home regardless if they've been discharged from the hotel and have gone back to their respective LGUs. Not all homes of ROFs can also pass as a quarantine facility, some have to stay in a TTMF.)

The region has received reports of "domestic violence and mental instability" due to isolation periods, Cañal added.

Cebu, meanwhile, follows domestic travel protocols which require a negative test result from a traveler, she said.

"We have no problem with that kasi po whatever the protocol is fina-follow po ni domestic tapos ang Bureau of Quarantine is on standby po to monitor," she said.

(We have no problem with that because whatever the domestic protocol is we follow then the Bureau of Quarantine is on standby to monitor.)

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It is important to consider whether the traveler had come from a low-risk country, said Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of adult infectious diseases at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

"The probability that the incoming travelers are infected is also very low," he said.

Shorter quarantine period can be considered for Filipinos who have been fully-vaccinated outside the country but authorities must validate this, Solante said.

"I think there's a good consideration to do that also. Just make sure that you have that particular setup at home that you're separated from other individuals," he said.

For those who have yet to receive the coronavirus jab, Solante said testing is "more effective" on the 5th to 7th day.