Doctor hits move to reduce quarantine for international arrivals


Posted at Jan 24 2022 10:33 AM

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MANILA – Now is not the right time to ease quarantine restrictions for international arrivals, a public health advocate said Monday, noting that the Philippines is still recording many new COVID-19 cases daily.

The health department on Saturday said it is looking into the possibility of easing quarantine restrictions for international arrivals, following the suggestion of President Rodrigo Duterte's economic adviser.

“I think it’s not timely at this point to loosen up the quarantine guidelines or protocol, because right now we are definitely in a surge and we are not yet out of the woods based on the data that we have recently,” Leachon said.

“So yesterday we had 29,000 new cases with a positivity rate of around 41.8 percent, and the testing are not yet adequate, and I think the cases that we have right now are underreported given the fact that maybe, the rapid antigen test are not actually incorporated into the data churned out by the Department of Health,” he added.

“Loosening up the guidelines [for] quarantine may be actually be counterintuitive, given that the (National Capital Region), though they have a decreasing in the growth rate, may actually flare up again in terms of the omicron cases,” Leachon explained. 

He also noted that there seems to be an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in areas surrounding NCR. 

“So I think it’s counterintuitive that we loosen up the quarantine guidelines in the midst of a surge right now. And I don’t think we have reached the peak and there’s no sign right now of a downward trajectory in order to loosen up our guidelines,” he said.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion earlier said that easing quarantine restrictions for international arrivals is needed to help the airline and travel industry.

He noted that the US does not require specifically the use of RT-PCR tests or facility quarantines for arriving passengers. 

Inbound passengers to the US only need a negative result from an antiviral test, not necessarily an RT-PCR, taken no more than 24 hours before departure.

Some arriving passengers in the country, however, have tested positive for COVID-19 during their quarantine period in hotels.

At least 10 percent of overseas Filipinos arriving every day and who are quarantined at hotels test positive for COVID-19, the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) said on Saturday.

--ANC, 24 January 2022