MANILA, Philippines —As another case was reported of a tourist entering Coron, Palawan with falsified travel documents and was tested positive for the coronavirus, the Department of Tourism (DOT) recommends penalties against the said tourist.
The DOT said the tourist is a 24-year-old male resident of Quezon City who arrived in Coron on March 9. He was confirmed COVID-19 positive by the Quezon City Surveillance Team.
The information was relayed to the local government of Coron the next day.
“All first-generation contacts of the positive tourist were all tested and are negative using the RT-PCR test conducted by Culion Sanitarium, and General Hospital Molecular Laboratory. While all secondary contacts were also tested and are negative using the antigen test by the Municipal Health Office,” the Coron Emergency Operations Center reported.
While the DOT is saddened by yet another case of falsification of travel documents, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat praised the prompt coordination between the QCST and the local government of Coron resulting in the early detection and contact tracing.
The DOT Region IV-B has recommended penalties against the tourist.
Under the Republic Act (RA) No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, tampering of documents and records issued by the public health authorities is a crime punishable by penalties amounting to P20,000 to 50,000 or imprisonment of one to six months or both.
In early February, three tourists from Manila who traveled to Boracay island with fake RT-PCR (Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test results also tested positive for COVID-19.
Since December, more than a dozen Boracay tourists submitted counterfeit RT-PCR test results.
Meanwhile last February 20, the DOT said the two tourists from the National Capital Region were "is filing charges" by the police in El Nido Palawan for tampering with their COVID-19 test results.
They were then barred held at the Lio Airport, El Nido by the Municipal Health Officers as the two female tourists submitted swab tests with falsified dates of specimen collection.
As the Inter-Agency Task Force on Management no longer requires tourists to submit a negative COVID-19 test result to harmonized the travel protocols, some major destinations including Coron, still require negative RT-PCR test results with QR code from a Department of Health-accredited laboratory.
Some local government units also accept negative saliva test results with QR codes from the Philippine Red Cross.
These tests should be taken 72 hours before the flight or sea travel from the time and date collected.
Coron tourists must also submit confirmed hotel booking with DOT-accredit accommodations, confirmed booking with a licensed tour or diving services, return ticket, or QR code from www.corontourism.ph.
The DOT reminded the public to uphold minimum public health and safety standards.
"Tourists and host communities alike are enjoined to practice mindful and responsible tourism to help strengthen recovery efforts," the department said.
Meanwhile, the tourism chief encouraged the public to avail of the 50% subsidized RT-PCR test at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital for only P900.