A few travelers from China tested positive for COVID-19 and were now in isolation, the director of the Bureau of Quarantine said Tuesday, but he added that only the partially vaccinated or unvaccinated were tested upon entering the country.
“Many Chinese have arrived, but we only require antigen tests for those who were partially vaccinated,” said the bureau’s director, Roberto Salvador Jr., speaking in Filipino to GMA News.
Salvador did not say how many had tested positive but said there were only a few of them.
Foreign travelers who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are required to present a negative test result from an antigen or RT-PCR test before traveling or upon arrival in the Philippines.
Unlike a growing number of countries, the Philippines has not imposed stricter COVID-19 measures on travelers from China, which is experiencing a surge in cases.
Senator Grace Poe said the government should decide on the appropriate measures and let travelers know before they fly.
China, which has dropped its zero-COVID policy amid a surge in cases is expected to lift travel restrictions on its citizens on Jan. 8.
Poe noted that other countries like the US, UK, France, Canada, Japan, South Korea, India, Israel, Morocco, Italy and Spain have all reimposed their mandatory COVID tests and other rules for travelers from China.
She said the lack of proactive policies based on what is happening in China was a cause for concern.
“Our experience in the past three years of the pandemic has shown that delayed and uninformed COVID-related policies are sometimes more deadly than the pandemic itself,” she said.
“Now that we have reopened again, we need to build confidence that the Philippines is well-positioned and, hopefully, now better informed in the fight against COVID,” she added.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said at least 73.7 million Filipinos or 94.46 percent of the government’s target population are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The number of boosted individuals also increased to 21 million, it added.
At least 6.9 million senior citizens, or 79.45 percent of the target A2 population have also received their primary vaccine series.
The Philippines recorded 3,458 new COVID-19 infections from Dec. 26, 2022, to Jan. 1, 2023, the DOH said.
According to the DOH’s latest bulletin, the number of cases logged over the past week was 39 percent lower than the 5,690 cases recorded from Dec. 19 to Dec. 25.
The daily case average for the recent week decreased to 494 from the previous 813.
The past week is the ninth week with fewer than 10,000 weekly cases.
The latest data from the DOH also showed a total of 164 additional verified COVID-19-related deaths were belatedly recorded. These deaths were registered from August 2020 to December 2022.
The DOH also said that the severe and critical cases admitted in hospitals due to COVID-19 declined to 433 as of Jan. 3. This was 16.2 percent of the total COVID-19 admissions, the DOH said.
Of the new cases recorded from Dec. 26, 2022, to Jan. 1, 2023, three individuals were tagged as new severe or critical cases.
Of the 2,155 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, 350 or 16.2 percent were occupied.
At the same time, 3,110 or 16.9 percent of the 18,412 non-ICU COVID-19 beds were in use.