Shorter quarantine for int’l passengers fully vaccinated in PH | Global News
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Shorter quarantine for int’l passengers fully vaccinated in PH

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

MANILA, Philippines — International passengers who have been fully vaccinated in the Philippines will be able to enjoy a shortened quarantine period and access “green lanes” in sea and airports when they arrive in the country.

Instead of the 10-day quarantine in a facility and four days in their destination, travelers arriving from abroad who earlier completed their vaccination in the country will have to stay in quarantine for only seven days, according to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) handling the country’s COVID-19 response.

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These new arrivals would be required to take a swab test only if they show COVID-19 symptoms during their quarantine, the IATF said in its latest resolution issued June 3.

The task force said a person is considered fully vaccinated two or more weeks after getting the second dose in a two-dose series, or two or more weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine. The vaccine used must have an emergency use authorization or compassionate special permit from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it added.

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The fully vaccinated individual must also carry his or her vaccination card and have this verified before departure. Upon arrival in the Philippines, the card must be presented to a Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) representative for reverification.

After they completed quarantine, the passengers will be issued a BOQ certificate indicating their vaccination status, the IATF said.

Not for OFWs, foreigners

The Department of Tourism (DOT) earlier proposed a shorter quarantine period for fully vaccinated returning Filipinos, while Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the 14-day quarantine should be scrapped for all those who have completed their vaccine doses.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the shorter quarantine would not apply tio foreign nationals, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and Filipinos who were fully vaccinated abroad.

“They would still have to undergo the regular quarantine and testing protocols, which is, to complete a 10-day facility-based quarantine,” Roque said.

The IATF has directed the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Finance, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the National Economic and Development Authority to give recommendations to further relax testing and quarantine protocols for certain classes of travelers.

Tests may be dropped

The DOH also said on Friday that it is studying the possibility of putting up green lanes in sea and airports as part of “liberal incentives” for travelers who were vaccinated in the Philippines.

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At an online media briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH had met with the DOT over the proposal to remove the requirement for RT-PCR testing for these passengers when they return to the county.

“We are open to these suggestions, but they need to be implemented slowly and studied fully,” Vergeire said.

While the DOH is supportive of these incentives, she said, the Philippines is yet to meet vaccination targets, unlike the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries which have begun to lessen restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals.

“Countries with liberal incentives for those fully vaccinated have vaccinated almost 40 percent of their population. In the UK, they have vaccinated around 30 percent. But in the Philippines, we have not reached that threshold yet,” Vergeire said.

Should the green lanes be implemented, however, the DOH said the incentives will only be extended to Filipinos and foreigners who were vaccinated in the Philippines. Those who got their jabs elsewhere will have to go through regular IATF procedures.

As of June 1, the Philippines has fully vaccinated 1.29 million individuals and administered some 5.4 million doses.The DOH on Friday recorded 7,450 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the country’s total count to 1,255,337 cases.

In its daily case bulletin, the DOH reported 60,794 active cases, or currently sick individuals. Friday’s active case count is the highest since May 8, when there were 61,733 active cases.

Of those still currently sick with the respiratory virus, the majority of 93.9 percent are mild cases, 2.0 percent are asymptomatic, 1.3 percent are in critical condition, 1.6 percent are severe cases and 1.15 percent have moderate symptoms.

119 reclassified as deaths

The DOH also reported that 2,382 more had recovered, bringing the total number of survivors to 1,173,006. The number of recoveries on Friday is also the lowest since April 17, when the DOH reported 799 recoveries.

However, 181 have died, bringing the total number of fatalities to 21,537. The DOH also said 119 cases previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths following final validation.Five laboratories failed to submit their data on time, while 12 duplicates were removed from the total case count.

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, coronavirus vaccines, DOH, IATF, ofws, quarantine
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