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Inbound travelers to undergo 2nd swab test amid more infectious Covid variant

MJ Blancaflor

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Inbound travelers from countries with travel restrictions due to the new and more infectious Covid-19 variant should undergo a second swab test on their fifth day of quarantine, Malacañang announced Friday.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved the Department of Health (DOH)’s recommendation on the matter during their meeting on Thursday, said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

“On testing and quarantine protocols for passengers coming from, or transiting through, countries where travel restrictions are in place due to new Covid-19 variants, these incoming passengers shall be tested upon arrival and shall be quarantined until the result of the subsequent test administered on the fifth day is released,” Roque said in a statement.

Health officials have recommended the second round of testing five days after the arrival of travelers, in an effort to provide to contain Covid-19 transmission in the country.

This came after four contacts of the 29-year-old Filipino found with B117 variant tested positive days after of their arrival in the country, including his girlfriend who accompanied him in Dubai.

The woman tested negative for Covid-19 upon arrival in the country on January 7, but tested positive six days later while she was undergoing quarantine.

The World Health Organization has long been reminding countries against the novel disease, especially since the Sars-Cov-2 — which causes Covid-19 — takes days before it can be detected.

This is why experts have noted of the incubation period or the time between exposure to the virus and symptom onset, which is five to six days on average, but can be as long as 14 days.

The Philippine government has since imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for travelers entering the country.

Authorities have imposed travel restrictions on 34 countries with reported cases of B117, which is said to be 70 percent more contagious than the dominant variant.

It means foreign travelers from the United Kingdom, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, and Finland are prohibited to enter the Philippines.

Also included are Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Norway, Luxembourg, Oman, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore South Korea, South Africa, Spain Sweden Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

Filipinos flying home are exempted from restrictions. However, they will undergo an absolute facility-based mandatory 14-day quarantine regardless of their swab test results.

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