DOH eyes removal of COVID-19 testing for returning Filipinos fully vaccinated abroad

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2021   •   680

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said it is planning to recommend the scrapping of the COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound travelers who have already completed their doses abroad.

The government’s task force for the COVID-19 response announced earlier it will implement a shorter quarantine period for inbound travelers who were fully vaccinated in the Philippines.

Under the revised guidelines, inbound passengers who were fully vaccinated in the Philippines will only need to undergo a seven-day quarantine period upon their arrival, and will only be required to take an RT-PCR test when they manifest COVID-19 symptoms during their quarantine period.

The new policy will take effect on June 22.

“Ganyan din po ang ating nirerekomenda for those vaccinated abroad na mga Pilipino na babalik dito,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

“Pero hindi pa po natin ‘yan na naifa-finalize kasi we need means of verification of their vaccine status or vaccination cards,” she added.

Vergeire stressed that the easing of protocols for fully vaccinated individuals should be gradual until the country has reached the targeted vaccination coverage.

Ang ating mga eksperto, ang lagi naman nilang sinasabi sa atin na kahit wala kang gawing test, basta i-isolate o i-quarantine mo ang isang pasyente o isang incoming traveler, you’re good,” she said.

“But of course, we would always want to defer to testing especially if we would want to do that contact tracing and all of these things,” she added.

The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated two million individuals, while 5.5 million others have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

PH’s first 2 Omicron deaths were unvaccinated elderlies with co-morbidities – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has reported two fatalities linked to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

The DOH said the two death cases were “aged more than 60 years, unvaccinated, and had pre-existing medical conditions.”

“Both were detected during the latest whole genome sequencing,” the agency said in a message to reporters.

The two patients were from Metro Manila and Central Luzon.

These are the first reported fatalities among those infected with Omicron in the country, it added.

The DOH stressed that while the Omicron variant mostly presents with asymptomatic and mild disease, data showed that the elderly, those with comorbidities, and unvaccinated are still most at risk for fatalities.

The health department also reported that 492 more Omicron cases have been detected in the Philippines based on the latest whole genome sequencing involving 714 samples.

The newly reported Omicron cases are composed of 332 local cases and 160 returning overseas Filipinos.

The indicated addresses of the said cases were from the following areas:

  • National Capital Region with 227 cases
  • CALABARZON with 76 cases
  • Central Luzon with 11 cases
  • Central Visayas with 5 cases
  • Cagayan Valley with 2 cases
  • Western Visayas, with 2 cases
  • Davao Region with 2 cases
  • Soccsksargen with 2 cases
  • Cordillera Administrative Region with 2 cases
  • Ilocos Region with 1 case
  • MIMAROPA with 1 case
  • Bangsamoro region with 1 case

The DOH said that based on the case line list, three cases are still active, 467 cases have been tagged as recovered, while there are 20 cases whose outcomes are still being verified.

This brings the total number of confirmed Omicron variant cases in the country to 535.

PHL logs 22,958 new COVID-19 infections

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Wednesday recorded 22,958 additional COVID-19 infections, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

In its latest data, the DOH said 21,691 of the new cases occurred within the recent 14 days, from January 6 to January 19.

The top regions that reported high cases in the last two weeks are the National Capital Region, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon.

The latest tally pushed the country’s number of active infections to 270,728. Of these cases, 8,335 are asymptomatic, 257,632 are mild, 2,970 are moderate, 1,487 are severe, and 304 are in critical condition.

The positivity rate was at 43.5 percent, based on samples of 62,531 individuals on January 17.

Six laboratories failed to submit their data on time. These facilities contribute on average 1.5 percent of samples tested and 1.9 percent of positive cases.

Recoveries increased by 36,611, resulting in 2,969,853 total recuperations.

COVID-related deaths rose to 53,044 with 82 new fatalities.

The utilization rate of intensive care unit beds nationwide was at 49 percent, and 53 percent in Metro Manila; isolation beds in the capital region at 48 percent, and 51 percent across the country.

In Metro Manila, 29 percent of ventilators are in use, and 23 percent nationwide.

PH detects 492 new cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has detected 492 additional cases of the more transmissible Omicron COVID-19 variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.

In an update, the DOH said the new cases of Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant were detected in the latest batch of whole genome sequencing done last January 13 to 14, 2022 by the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH), and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The DOH said that the 492 Omicron variant cases are composed of 332 local cases and 160 returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

Of the 332 local cases, the indicated addresses of the cases were from the following areas:

  • National Capital Region with 227 cases
  • CALABARZON with 76 cases
  • Central Luzon with 11 cases
  • Central Visayas with 5 cases
  • Cagayan Valley with 2 cases
  • Western Visayas, with 2 cases
  • Davao Region with 2 cases
  • Soccsksargen with 2 cases
  • Cordillera Administrative Region with 2 cases
  • Ilocos Region with 1 case
  • MIMAROPA with 1 case
  • Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with 1 case

“Based on the case line list, three cases are still active, two cases have died, 467 cases have been tagged as recovered, while there are 20 cases whose outcomes are still being verified,” the DOH said.

This update brings the total number of confirmed Omicron variant cases in the country to 535.

Aside from Omicron variant cases, health authorities also detected 115 Delta (B.1.617.2) variant cases, and one Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant case in the 714 samples recently sequenced.

Of the additional 115 Delta variant cases, the DOH said 88 were local cases and 27 were ROFs.

Based on the case line list, two cases are still active, two have died, 107 have been tagged as recovered, while there are four cases whose outcomes are still being verified, it added.

This brings the total number of confirmed Delta variant cases in the Philippines to 8,612.

Meanwhile, the local Alpha variant case has been tagged as recovered.

The total number of Alpha variant cases is now 3,170, the DOH said.

With the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the DOH once again urged the public to follow protective health protocols and adhere to minimum public health standards.

“New protocols based on science and data such as shortened intervals for booster shots, childhood vaccination, shortened quarantine/isolation periods for fully vaccinated HCWs without symptoms, and targeted testing among others were put in place to mitigate the risks of the Omicron variant,” the agency said.

“The public is strongly encouraged to comply to ensure the safety and protection of the entire community,” it added.

The DOH also renewed its call for all eligible individuals, especially senior citizens, those with comorbidities, and children, to complete their primary series of vaccines and get boosted as these are safe, effective, and free.

“Getting vaccinated is still our best line of defense when it comes to fighting and preventing severe and critical disease. Regardless of the variant, we must always keep our guards up against the enemy that is COVID-19,” it added.

 

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