COVID-19

Philippines relaxes quarantine rules for fully vaccinated travelers

Sofia Tomacruz
Philippines relaxes quarantine rules for fully vaccinated travelers

PROTECTION. A health worker prepares a dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

Travelers fully vaccinated in the Philippines or abroad will need to show proof of vaccination, undergo seven days of quarantine in a facility, and get tested on the fifth day

The Philippine government’s coronavirus task force has announced new quarantine rules for fully vaccinated individuals entering the Philippines from select countries abroad. 

In a press briefing on Tuesday, June 29, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that inbound travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Philippines or other countries will now be required to undergo seven days of facility-based quarantine upon arrival, with testing to be done on the fifth day. 

The new rules, effective July 1, will cover individuals who were fully vaccinated in the Philippines regardless of their travel history, and people fully vaccinated abroad who “stayed exclusively” in “green countries” in the past 14 days before arrival.

Roque described “green countries” as those classified by the Philippine health department as low-risk for COVID-19 based on disease incidence rate.

It is not yet clear if the list of “green countries” is available. Rappler has asked the Department of Health (DOH) for more details on the matter. We will update this story once the DOH responds. 

Before this, shortened quarantine protocols announced on June 4 were supposed to cover only people fully vaccinated in the Philippines. But this had not been implemented because the government was still figuring out how to verify an individual’s vaccination status.

How it will work

If you’re a fully vaccinated traveler allowed to enter the Philippines, here’s how quarantine will work under the new rules:

Proving vaccination status 

  • Those fully vaccinated in the Philippines should have their vaccination card verified before departure. This can be done through a certification issued through the Department of Information Communication and Technology’s “certificate of vaccination record portal” or the city health officer in respective local governments where vaccination took place. 
  • Those fully vaccinated outside the Philippines will need to carry their official documents proving full vaccination as validated through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in their respective jurisdictions. An international certificate of vaccination can also be presented when applicable, Roque said.

Quarantine 

  • All fully vaccinated individuals allowed to enter the country will be required to undergo a seven-day quarantine in government-approved facilities upon arrival. The date of arrival will be considered Day 1. 
  • Strict symptom monitoring will be observed for the seven-day facility-based quarantine. 

Testing 

  • RT-PCR testing will be done on the fifth day of facility-based quarantine. 
  • If the test is negative, the seven-day quarantine will still be completed. 
  • If positive, isolation protocols will be observed.

Release 

  • After the seven day facility-based quarantine is completed, the Bureau of Quarantine will issue a quarantine certificate that will indicate vaccination and quarantine status. 
  • Individuals are urged to continue self-monitoring for symptoms over the next seven days once facility-based quarantine is complete. 

Roque said the testing requirement would be subject to review 30 days after implementation. Before this new set of rules for vaccinated individuals, RT-PCR testing was only prescribed when the person developed COVID-19 symptoms during their quarantine period. 

What you should know

A person is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if it has been two or more weeks since they received a dose of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, said Roque.

The individual’s vaccine should also be among those granted an emergency approval by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration or included in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergency use listing. 

The Philippines has approved for emergency use the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Moderna, the Gamaleya Research Institute, Johnson & Johnson, and Bharat Biotech. Donated Sinopharm vaccines have also been granted emergency use authorization.

Meanwhile, the WHO has listed the vaccines of Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Sinopahrm, and Sinovac for emergency use. 

For individuals allowed to enter the Philippines but are not yet fully vaccinated, current quarantine protocols include 10 days of facility-based quarantine, RT-PCR testing on the seventh day, and four days of home quarantine after leaving the facility. 

The DOH earlier cited the necessity of strictly following quarantine protocols as part of measures to protect public health and the country’s health system from the Delta COVID-19 variant. The Philippines’ quarantine measures are among the least restrictive in Southeast Asia. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.