MANILA - The Department of Tourism is hopeful the pilot test in Baguio City will prove that antigen screening may be used in border control to help revive an industry that was shuttered for months due to COVID-19.
Aside from being cheaper than the RT-PCR or reverse transmission-polymerase chain reaction test, the gold standard in screening the virus, the antigen tests also yield results much quicker.
Baguio City, which will open to tourists from the Ilocos region, will subject travelers to RT-PCR and parallel antigen tests to see if they match.
With several tourist destinations under modified general community quarantine, "all eyes" are on Baguio and Boracay, which also reopened to tourists, said Sec. Bernadette Romulo Puyat.
Boracay welcomed 35 tourists from outside the province of Aklan on Thursday, its first day of reopening. All travelers were required to submit a negative RT-PCR result from the last 48 hours.
"We’re happy with that first, but of course we’re praying that the Baguio pilot testing will become successful so that it will become more affordable to travel to be able to go to Boracay," she told ANC's Headstart.
Although tourism workers are eager to restart the economy, local government officials and residents are "wary" about reopening destinations to travelers.
"We really have to be careful that health and safety protocols are in place. Or just in case somebody exhibits COVID symptoms, all protocols will be in place, so that it will encourage them to reopen their tourist destinations," said Puyat.
The Philippines' caseload of confirmed coronavirus infections climbed Thursday by 2,415 to 314,079.