A five-day facility quarantine will be imposed on all inbound travellers upon arrival, with the required RT-PCR test taken only on the fifth day of quarantine, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed on Wednesday, 27 Jan 2021. The revised quarantine and testing protocols for inbound travellers will come into effect in February.
According to Roque, regardless of their origin-destination, all travellers entering the Philippines from another country will be required to quarantine for five days in a government-accredited facility. They will, on the other hand, no longer need to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival.
CNN Philippines reports, “Instead, they will be sent straight to a facility for quarantine then undergo a swab test five days after their arrival in the country.”
Stopping the spread of more transmissible COVID-19 variants
The update in COVID-19 testing protocols for inbound travellers — specifically the RT-PCR test taken on the fifth day of facility quarantine — is a precautionary measure that aims to efficiently address the rise of other transmissible COVID-19 variants. In usual cases, COVID-19’s incubation lasts anywhere from five to 14 days, hence the adjustments in RT-PCR test schedules.
On Monday, 25 Jan 2021, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that the highly transmissible UK variant has been detected in 11 of Bontoc’s COVID-19 cases. The confirmation has urged local authorities to push for an extended lockdown in several parts of Mt. Province.
Will inbound travellers still get tested upon arrival?
So can inbound travellers still take an RT-PCR test upon arrival? The simple answer is yes, if they exhibit flu-like symptoms or are feeling under the weather. Otherwise, they will be asked to proceed with the five-day facility quarantine and take a test only on the fifth day of isolation.
Should passengers test negative, they will be allowed to continue their 14-day quarantine at their residence under strict monitoring of their local government unit. Those who test positive will be transferred to an assigned hospital for further assessment and management.
Watch this space for more Philippine travel updates and COVID-19 advisories.