COVID-19 testing no longer required for OFWs from low-risk areas – DOH

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 19 2020 05:01 PM | Updated as of Oct 19 2020 09:01 PM

Returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) wait in line at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 in Pasay City on May 25, 2020. The repatriated Filipino workers are scheduled to take their flights to their respective home province after undergoing the mandatory quarantine for inbound Filipinos in Manila. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) coming from countries with low or medium prevalence of coronavirus cases will be no longer required to undergo COVID-19 tests after arriving in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in a virtual press briefing, said asymptomatic migrant workers would be allowed to go back to their respective provinces, provided they observe minimum public health standards.

“But whatever the local governments would require for them to enter into their province, they have to comply,” she said.

Based on the Omnibus Guidelines for Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment and Reintegration Strategies for COVID-19 released this month, only those with symptoms will undergo quarantine and RT-PCR testing.

However, for areas with high prevalence of coronavirus infections, all arriving OFWs, whether asymptomatic or not, will be tested for the virus and undergo isolation.

“We are rationalizing actually not just the resources but also protocols that we do. If you would notice in the previous protocol that we have, we would be testing OFWs when they arrive. Once they test negative, we send them to their provinces,” Vergeire said. 

“Once they arrive in their provinces, they get to be tested again. They get to be quarantined again. So we are just rationalizing the protocols.”

This is what experts agreed, the health official said, in order eliminate redundant measures hampering the government’s response to the pandemic.

“We sat down with all of our experts and our experts agreed. They were saying [na] lahat ng tao na darating (all those returning) and especially those areas na walang (that don’t have) transmission... the probability of an individual to have that certain disease pagdating dito ay maliit lang (when they arrive is small),” she said.

Vergeire said they were also assured that local government units (LGUs) were proactive in protecting their respective borders.

“LGUs do not let just any person go inside their territory... they screen everybody coming from the outside and they make sure that their protocols are complied with,” she said.

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