OCTA pushes for COVID-19 tests for tourists, which Cebu says no longer required

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2021 04:56 PM

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An independent group of researchers from the academe stressed on Tuesday the importance of COVID-19 testing for tourists, which the Cebu provincial government said was no longer necessary for travelers. 

"Para makita talaga ang tunay na situation in any area, in any lalawigan kahit anong siyudad or probinsiya, kailangan talaga natin ang testing," said Dr. Butch Ong of the OCTA Research Group. 

(For us to see the real situation in any area, in any province or city, we really need testing.) 

"We need to monitor kung sino talaga, kasi marami sa mga kababayan natin ay asymptomatic ano. So, iyong paglipat ng isang tao from area to another na asymptomatic could become a problem kapag mataas ang viral load ng traveler na iyon," he said in a public briefing. 

(We need to monitor who among the public has COVID-19 because many of our compatriots are asymptomatic. The movement of an asymptomatic person from one area to another could become a problem if that traveler has a high viral load.)

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said in an executive order issued Monday that domestic tourists would no longer be required to show a negative COVID-19 test when visiting Cebu province, to make their travel easier and revive the local tourism industry and economy. 

The interior department said on Tuesday it was considering a proposal to remove COVID-19 testing as a requirement for travel. 

The Philippines is implementing one of the world's longest and strictest COVID-19 lockdowns that shuttered thousands of businesses and left millions out of work. 

Among the fastest growing economies in Asia before the pandemic, the country saw its gross domestic product slump by a record 9.5 percent in 2020. 

With more than 563,000 cases and nearly 12,100 deaths, the Philippines has the second highest COVID-19 infections and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia. With a report from Reuters