Duque not consulted on scrapping quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Thursday, October 14, that he was not consulted on the government's decision to scrap the quarantine period for fully vaccinated travelers coming from "green list" countries.

In an interview with ANC's Headstart, Duque said he was at the Senate deliberations on the health department's proposed 2022 budget when task force officials decided on the new policy.

"We have some issues to raise. As far as I'm concerned, I've always supported a facility quarantine, at least five days then test, then you continue at home. That's my position," Duque said.

He added, "Apparently, the IATF went through the process and they approved this and what we can do now is to strictly monitor this."

The health secretary said that the decision will also be discussed at a meeting of pandemic task force officials on Thursday afternoon. "We'll see how this is going to turn out because we have some issues to raise," he added.

On Wednesday, October 13, the government announced that there was no need for facility-based quarantine for fully-vaccinated foreigners and Filipinos upon arrival in the Philippines so long as they come from "green" countries.

Fully-vaccinated Filipinos can choose to take the same RT-PCR test as foreigners within 72 hours before departure and show a negative result, or choose to take the RT-PCR test at a quarantine facility upon their arrival in the Philippines and stay at the facility until they receive a negative result. 

Check out the list of "green countries" below.

Why this matters

Vaccinated individuals can still pass on the virus to other people, especially to those who are not vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines – regardless of their brand – work against hospitalization and even death, but vaccinated individuals can still be infected with the virus.

This is why health authorities still advise fully vaccinated Filipinos to continue wearing their masks and follow other health protocols.

Citing the case of other countries, Duque said that these countries are able to implement such policies because their vaccination coverage is already at 70%.

“(Other) countries can afford to do it because their national vaccination coverage is at 70%, whereas we are only at 30% and not all travelers are passing through NCR (National Capital Region), some travelers are going to Davao, to Cebu, to other airports," the health chief said.

As of October 10, around 30% or 23.1 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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