New rules for travelers arriving in PH: 7th day swab test, 2-week quarantine

The Philippines has introduced new health protocols for all persons arriving in the country, including those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque bared the new regulations on Friday, May 7, in a televised announcement. These regulations will be implemented in all ports of entry to the country.

According to the new rules, arriving travelers are now required to complete 14 days of quarantine. The first 10 days must be in an accredited quarantine hotel or facility, while the remaining 4 days will be isolation at home or at their destination.

Instead of the a mandatory reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test on the 6th day from their arrival, the test will be done on the 7th day. But even if the test comes out negative, the traveler must still complete the 10-day facility-based quarantine.

Standardized timelime

There is now an effort to standardize the length of the quarantine periods and the timing of test results.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr), which supervises airports, has been given this job.

"The DOTr shall ascertain that swabbing will be done at exactly the 7th day and results will be on the 9th day. Day of release from the quarantine facility shall be standardized on the 10th day," said Roque.

The 7th day swab test will also be done through double swabbing to ensure that the specimen can properly undergo whole genome sequencing, a laboratory procedure meant to identify if certain variants are present in the specimen. This has been critical in the country's bid to prevent the spread of variants. The current variant authorities are most worried about is the  B.1.617 variant first reported in India.

'One Hotel Command'

There will now also be a "One Hotel Command" to coordinate with all hotels designated as quarantine facilities.

Reminiscent of the One Hospital Command under the Department of Health, this will be established by the Department of Tourism.

To beef up security in quarantine facilities, the government will tap police personnel to augment the Philippine Coast Guard, currently the agency in charge of security for such establishments. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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