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LGUs may still demand a negative swab test result from travelers: DOH

The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Wednesday that fully vaccinated visitors may still be required to have a negative swab test result in order to enter their countries.

The health department said in an advisory that until the pandemic task force’s new protocol is finalized, the previous resolution allowing LGUs to require travelers to present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result as an entry requirement will remain in effect.

IATF Resolution No. 124-B, permitting vaccination cards as adequate alternatives to any testing requirements before travel or upon arrival at the LGU of destination, was adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) last week.

Some local government entities, on the other hand, have voiced reservations about the new resolution loosening domestic travel restrictions.

“While we work out the practical issues highlighted by certain implementers, IATF Resolution No. 101 remains in place, giving local governments the option to demand a negative RT-PCR result before allowing anybody into their community,” the DOH stated.

The Department of Health said that antigen testing as a condition for travel has never been pushed for, citing IATF Resolution No. 101, which states that the testing need should only be restricted to RT-PCR findings.

“Furthermore, antigen testing for border control reasons is never advised,” it said.

The Department of Health maintains that the most effective interzonal border control methods are a symptom and exposure screening combined with comprehensive contact tracing.

Boracay is keeping its RT-PCR requirement for visitors, including those who are completely vaccinated, according to Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores on Wednesday, citing worries over easily tampered vaccination certificates.

“Until such time as we can have a mechanism of verifying these vaccination cards,” he added, “we’ve chosen to simply maintain in the interim that all visitors, all arrivals on the island of Boracay should still show their RT-PCR test.”

Because even RT-PCR test results have been manipulated previously, Miraflores believes there is a significant danger of receiving fraudulent vaccination cards.

Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat does not see Aklan’s decision as a setback to the island’s comeback.

“Nag-start na tayo sa immunization is really essential.” Ang sinabi ni governor na walang mamemeke na once ma-perfect na nila. At the very least, gradual but sure (the essential thing is to start the vaccine) (for tourism workers). The governor said that they would consider it if a verification mechanism was perfected. For me, it’s even better since it’s gradual but sure that way),” she remarked in a media interview.

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