The Department of Health recommends revising the COVID-19 testing protocol for inbound travellers in the Philippines to undergo an RT-PCR test on the seventh or eighth day of their quarantine to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
To secure border control amid the threat of new coronavirus variants traced in foreign countries, the DOH is revising the travel protocol for incoming travellers.
The current protocol directs inbound travellers to be tested on their fifth day in a quarantine facility upon arrival in the country unless they show COVID-19 symptoms. If the test result is negative, the travellers will be endorsed to the local government to finish their mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with ANC's Headstart, "there are lapses" in their current protocol.
She also said that the viral load is still high by the 7th or 8th day based on new evidence.
"The viral load is high on the seventh or eighth day. For us to have accurate test results and we could isolate those who are sick immediately, we're recommending this now," Vergeire said.
"That's why we are revising again our protocol and we will be presenting to [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] to adopt this kind of implementation," she said.
However, the DOH official emphasized that the IATF would still have to approve their recommendation.
According to the Health authorities, they have detected 678 additional COVID-19 cases of three different coronavirus variants, including two considered variants of concern last Tuesday.
On the same day, health authorities reported 5,683 new infections, pushing the national coronavirus caseload to 1,067,892. Of these, 66,060 are active cases.
To date, the Philippines has cases of the highly infectious B117 (first found in the United Kingdom) with 289 people infected, 380 people were infected with B1351 (first seen in South Africa), P1 (first found in Brazil), and the first variant found in the Philippines called P3, which is still under investigation.
The Philippines hasn't detected the "double mutant" variant called B1617, which was first found in India and is believed to be the cause of the surge there, the DOH said.
Sources: Rappler, PhilStar