PHL new testing, quarantine protocols to take effect Feb. 1 – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2021   •   435

MANILA, Philippines – A new set of COVID-19 testing and quarantine protocols for travelers allowed entry to the Philippines will be implemented starting February 1, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the new policy was adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Tuesday.

Arriving passengers, regardless of their origin, shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine upon arrival.

They shall then undergo RT-PCR test on the fifth day from their date of arrival in the country, unless the passenger shows symptoms at an earlier date while on quarantine.

Those who tested negative shall be endorsed to the local government unit of destination where the passenger shall continue the remainder of their 14-day quarantine.

“Appropriate patient management shall be observed as outlined in the guidelines of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Health Omnibus Guidelines on Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment and Reintegration Strategies for COVID-19,” Roque said.

The Philippines has imposed travel restrictions on foreign passengers from 35 countries as a precautionary measure against the reported new variants of novel coronavirus disease.

The travel restriction will last until January 31 unless further extended by the government.

Duterte wants RT-PCR test, isolation in PhilHealth insurance coverage

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has expanded the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) for COVID-19 patients.

To ease patients’ financial burden, the President asked PhilHealth to include COVID-19 testing, isolation, and hospitalization services into the agency’s health insurance coverage.

“Nagbigay ng direktiba ang ating presidente sa Philippine Health Insurance Corp. na kasama sa health insurance coverage ang RT-PCR test, isolation sa accredited community isolation units at hospitalization para sa mild at critical cases ng COVID-19,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

The Palace spokesman said under the country’s testing protocol, RT-PCR tests will be subsidized by the government through PhilHealth for medical and economic frontliners, and those with high exposure to COVID-19 as well as those with symptoms.

“At most, ang babayaran ninyo po ay P300. So, ang bayad po diyan ay Philhealth kaya nga po bilyon-bilyong, ang single largest expenditure ng Philhealth. Hindi naman po tama na sabihin natin na hindi tayo nakakapagbigay ng libreng testing sa ating mga kababayan,” Roque said.

“Wala pong dahilan para hindi Philhealth ang magbayad ng inyong PCR test kung qualified ka makakuha ng PCR test,” he added.

Roque also stressed that PhilHealth should cover patients staying in temporary tents in hospitals and consider them as cases of in-patient care. -MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Foreigners defying PH laws, quarantine rules may face deportation – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign nationals who are violating quarantine rules set by the government’s inter-agency for COVID-19 response may be deported, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) warned.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said foreigners staying in the country are expected to follow Philippine laws, and blatant disregard of rules and persons of authority may result in their deportation.

It can be recalled that last year, the bureau blacklisted a Spanish national for allegedly violating the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) policies and for hurling expletives at a police officer who advised the foreigner’s helper to wear a face mask while watering the plants outside of their house in a Makati Village.

Morente reiterated that aliens who disrespect persons of authority may be considered undesirable aliens.

“Foreign nationals who disrespect symbols of our country and persons of authority are not welcome in the Philippines,” he said.

The bureau also disclosed they are probing reports about some foreign executives of companies in the Philippines who allegedly violate quarantine protocols in their workplaces.

“We will be conducting an investigation on these reports, and if found with merit, will file immigration cases against aliens involved,” the BI said.

PH gov’t to increase COVID-19 testing up to 90K a day – Dizon

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government is looking to ramp up the number of COVID-19 tests in Metro Manila and nearby provinces especially amid the enforcement of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), testing czar Vince Dizon said Tuesday.

“Sinabi na po ni IATF chairperson na si (Health) Secretary Francisco Duque na mag-ramp up tayo ng ating testing and detection dito sa NCR (National Capital Region), Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal lalong-lalo na ngayong panahon ng ECQ,” Dizon said during a Palace online briefing.

Dizon said they are eyeing to increase the COVID-19 tests up to 90,000 per day.

To achieve this, the testing czar said the government will be using antigen test kits validated by the World Health Organization, through its emergency use listing, and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) along with the RT-PCR test.

He said antigen tests will be used in areas with high number of COVID-19 cases such as Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal – collectively tagged as the ‘NCR Plus’ bubble.

Dizon said the use of antigen test kits will help the government in immediately identifying those infected with coronavirus as it can yield faster results.

The test kits will also be used in hospitals to test suspected patients and healthcare workers.

“Ito rin po ang gagamitin ng mga mayor para magtest sa mga lugar, lalo na sa mga barangay na mataas ang kaso,” he added.

Currently, the country conducts more than 51,000 RT-PCR tests a day.

Dizon said the government will procure additional 30,000 antigen test kits along with the RT-PCR tests to achieve the targeted 90,000 tests per day. He, however, noted that these kits will only be limited to the NCR Plus area.

The testing czar further stated that the 500,000 antigen test kits, as announced earlier by the Malacañang, are still being procured by the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

The OCD is only allowed to purchase the antigen kits brands Panbio COVID-19 Ag rapid test kit, SD Biosensor test kit, and Lansion test kit.

“Ang target po natin ay mag-procure ang OCD ng 500,000 antigen test kits para mai-deploy sa mga communities at iba’t ibang ospital sa ECQ area,” he said.

Dizon also reported that the country so far has 239 testing laboratories all over the country.

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