DOH clarifies that LGUs can still require negative swab test result

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MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) stated on Wednesday that local government units (LGUs) can still require fully-vaccinated travelers to have a negative swab test result in order to enter their jurisdictions.

The health department noted in an advisory that the previous resolution allowing local governments to require travelers to present a negative reverse transmission polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result as an entry requirement remains in effect while the pandemic task force works out its new protocol.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) passed IATF Resolution No. 124-B last week, which allows vaccination cards to be used in place of any testing requirements prior to travel or upon arrival at LGU of destination.

However, some local government agencies raised worry about the new resolution relaxing domestic travel protocols.

“As we iron out the operational concerns raised by some implementers, IATF Resolution No. 101 remains in effect, which affords the LGUs the flexibility to require a negative RT-PCR result before granting anyone entry into their locality,” the DOH said.

The DOH emphasized that it has never advocated for antigen testing as a travel requirement, citing IATF Resolution No. 101, which states that the testing requirement should be confined to RT-PCR results.

“Further, antigen testing is never recommended for border control purposes,” it added.

The DOH noted that the most effective interzonal border control measures are symptom and exposure screening supplemented by comprehensive contact tracing.

Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores said on Wednesday that Boracay will keep its RT-PCR requirement for travelers, including those who are completely immunized, due to concerns about easy-to-tamper vaccination cards.

“We’ve decided to just retain in the meantime that all tourists, all arrivals in the island of Boracay should still present their RT-PCR test until such time that we can have a system of validating these vaccination cards,” he said.

According to Miraflores, there is a substantial possibility of receiving fake vaccination cards because RT-PCR test results have already been tampered with.

Meanwhile, tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat does not see Aklan’s decision as a setback to the island’s recovery.

“Ang importante is nag-start na tayo sa vaccination. Ang sinabi naman ni governor na once ma-perfect na nila na walang mamemeke. Mas maganda nga ‘yon at least slow but sure (What’s important is to start the vaccination (for tourism workers). The governor said they would consider it once they perfect a verification system. For me, it even better because at least that way, it’s slow but sure)” she said in a media interview.

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