Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion pushed the government to permit the negative antigen test results as a travel requirement for international arrivals.
“I thought the idea of antigen test prior to departure within 24 hours is good enough to provide comfort,” Concepcion said during the Go Negosyo’s Booster, based on the report of PNA.
Allowing antigen tests would also help the country in reviving its tourism and airline industries, Concepcion added.
Though antigen tests are less accurate than the gold standard reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), it can still check if a person infected with the virus is contagious, plus it is cheaper and more practical.
Concepcion added that antigen test “may not be as perfect as an RT-PCR” test, but an RT-PCR test if taken too early or too late “may also not be effective.”
He said a negative antigen test result is now accepted even in the United States.
“In our case when we leave America, we need to take an RT-PCR test 48 hours prior to departure. That is a bit of concern because the RT-PCR testing capacity here is at the maximum capacity, so some Filipinos going home may have a problem trying to get an appointment for this RT-PCR test,” he said.
“The entry requirements are so extensive and complicated that they put the country out of the reach of international visitors, and even our returning kababayans,” Concepcion added.
Remove the facility-based quarantine
The Go Negosyo founder also proposed to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to gradually phase out facility-based quarantine for international arrivals and shift to home-based quarantine instead.
Countries such as Thailand and Switzerland have already started to open up for foreign travelers by removing the required quarantine upon arrival.
“It is quite understandable that public health should be the primary concern of governments. But as COVID itself changes, policy should be also open to re-examination,” Concepcion said.
“As we see omicron start to subside then we can maybe move towards a gradual phase-out of our quarantine in our country.”
For international arrivals, the Philippines require a traveler to present a negative RT-PCR test result, and they must also undergo a facility-based quarantine to be tested via RT-PCR test on the fifth day.
If the RT-PCR test is negative, an individual can continue to observe oneself for possible Covid-19 symptoms at home.
“Other countries seem to have already accepted the fact that COVID is here to stay. Maybe it’s time we practice living with COVID or else the Philippine economy will suffer and along with it, its MSMEs [micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises],” he stated.