DILG to nix virus test for travel

The Department of the Interior and Local Government is considering a proposal to remove COVID-19 testing as a requirement for travel.

Among these are the removal of coronavirus testing, the issuance of travel authority, and a city health certificate, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said Tuesday.

Travelers will instead be required to undergo clinical testing at the terminal of origin and terminal of destination, he said.

The DILG and the Department of Tourism earlier said they were working to streamline travel rules in tourist destinations to boost tourism.

But waiving a negative COVID-19 test requirement for tourists seeking entry to a province or city is problematic, Dr. Butch Ong of the OCTA Research Group said Tuesday.

Ong was responding to a query on OCTA’s take on Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia not requiring tourists to present a negative COVID-19 test result, saying that a medical certificate will do.

Given the situation, Ong said the country should continue to improve its COVID-19 testing efforts and health system capacity.

“We still advocate testing, improvement of health care capacity including more COVID-19 beds, hiring more nurses and doctors,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Senate agreed to replace the controversial terminology “vaccine passport” with “COVID-19 vaccine card” during the period of amendments on Monday on the proposed measure expediting the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines.

This was after some senators, led by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, opposed the use of the term “passport” as it “connotes or affects mobility” and may be construed as discriminatory.

Three of the bill’s seven authors -- Senators Pia Cayetano, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Grace Poe -- have proposed the creation of the Vaccination Passport Program with inoculated individuals issued a vaccine passport as proof of COVID-19 vaccinations they have received.

Densing told Teleradyo: “We're also eyeing the possibility of not including testing.”

He added that those who only need to undergo swabbing are people who are symptomatic, those who do have the virus, or those who came in contact with COVID-19 patients.

"If you don't have exposure, you're not really mandated to undergo testing. Our epidemiologists say that as you observe minimum health standards, 95 percent you won't contract the disease or infect anyone,” he said.

Cebu has already implemented this, Densing said, as the province will no longer require domestic tourists to show a negative COVID-19 test, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said in an executive order issued Monday.

Topics: Department of the Interior and Local Government , COVID-19 testing , Epimaco Densing , Department of Tourism
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