MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday clarified that local government units (LGUs) can still require fully-vaccinated travelers a negative swab test result as requirement for entry into their jurisdictions.
In an advisory, the health department said the previous resolution allowing LGUs to require travelers to present a negative reverse transmission polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result as entry requirement remains in effect, as they iron out the pandemic task force’s new protocol.
Last week, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) approved IATF Resolution No. 124-B allowing vaccination cards as sufficient alternatives to any testing requirements before travel or upon arrival at LGU of destination.
Some local government units, however, expressed concern over 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 stressed it has never advocated for antigen testing as a requirement for travel, citing IATF Resolution No. 101 that the testing requirement should only be limited to RT-PCR results.
“Further, antigen testing is never recommended for border control purposes,” it added.
The DOH maintained that symptom and exposure screening complemented by robust contact tracing are the most effective interzonal border control measures.
On Wednesday, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores said Boracay is retaining its RT-PCR requirement for tourists even those fully inoculated amid concerns about easy-to-tamper vaccination cards.
“[W]e’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.
Miraflores said there is a high risk of getting fake vaccination cards because even RT-PCR test results have been tampered with before.
Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, meanwhile, does not consider 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. (PNA)