The government has eased further travel restrictions, shortening the quarantine period for incoming passengers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 starting yesterday and allowing minors aged 12 to 17 and seniors over 65 years old to travel in areas under the general community and modified community quarantine by Oct. 15.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that starting Oct. 8, fully vaccinated travelers from “green” or “yellow” list countries need only to undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of their negative COVID-19 swab test results, which will be taken on their fifth day.
“They shall then be required to undergo home quarantine until their 10th day, with the day of arrival as their first day,” he said.
On the other hand, unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or individuals whose vaccination status cannot be independently verified or confirmed as valid or authentic by the authorities coming from “green” or “yellow” list will be required to undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of their RT-PCR testing taken on the seventh day.
They will then be required to undergo home quarantine until their 14th day, with the day of arrival as their first day.
In the case of foreign nationals, they will be required to secure their own pre-booked accommodation of at least six days for the fully vaccinated; and at least eight days for the unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or individuals whose vaccination status cannot be independently confirmed as valid or authentic by our authorities coming from “green” or “yellow” list.
According to previous guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), inbound travelers from countries classified under the “green list” qualify for seven-day facility-based quarantine instead of 10 days.
Meanwhile, Roque said the IATF expanded the number of people who can travel in areas under the GQC and MGCQ to include minors and senior citizens starting Oct. 15.
However, he said the travel should be subjected to the guidelines and strict health protocols as may be prescribed by the Department of Tourism and regulations of the LGU of destination.
Those allowed to travel under the new IATF rules include minors below 18 years old, fully vaccinated individuals over 65 years old, fully vaccinated individuals with comorbidities or other health risks, and fully vaccinated pregnant women.
Roque also said that on the interzonal trip, persons, including senior citizens, are required to present proof of their complete COVID-19 vaccination instead of COVID-19 test results.
Interzonal travel refers to the movement between provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities under different community quarantine classifications.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday said a repeat RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test for workers who completed their 14-day quarantine is no longer needed as long as they have a certificate of completion.
In a virtual briefing, Vergeire said this also applies to employees afflicted with COVID-19 who recovered and finished their isolation.
"As long as they already have their clearance from government or private physicians that they have completed their quarantine period or isolation period, we should accept them," she said.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals exposed to a coronavirus-positive person are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
The quarantine period, meanwhile, for fully vaccinated persons who do not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms has been shortened to seven days.
The Philippines logged 10,670 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infections to 2,643,494.
The Department of Health reported 191 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 39,232.
The DOH also reported 7,691 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,486,059.
There were 118,203 active cases, of which 77.7 percent were mild, 13.4 percent were asymptomatic, 1.1 percent were critical, 2.7 percent were severe, and 5.15 percent were moderate.
Nationwide, 72 percent of ICU beds, 56 percent of isolation beds, 58 percent of ward beds, and 52 percent of ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 71 percent of ICU beds, 46 percent of isolation beds, 54 percent of ward beds, and 55 percent of ventilators, were in use.
Data from the Philippine National Police (PNP), meanwhile, showed that the number of areas under a granular lockdown dropped to 151 as of Thursday, down from 186.
The PNP said areas under granular lockdown were reported in 108 barangays in Metro Manila.
These areas included 108 houses, 13 residential buildings, 13 streets, 13 subdivisions or villages, three residential building floors, and a settlement.
COVID-19 cases, however, are on the rise in three regions, the DOH said.
Vergeire identified the regions as Bicol Region, Zamboanga Peninsula and MIMAROPA.
Data from the DOH showed Bicol Region has reported a total of 43,712 confirmed cases as of Oct. 6. Of the figure, 3,311 are active cases while 680 have died.
The Zamboanga Peninsula reported 43,298 cases. Of these, 2,786 are active while 831 have succumbed to the illness.
In MIMAROPA, a total of 29,960 cases have been reported, of which 2,003 are active cases while 688 have died.
Vergeire said the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the Ilocos Region, and the Cagayan Valley remain under high-risk classification due to the number of COVID-19 cases.
CAR has recorded a total of 77,557 confirmed cases, of which 6,794 are active and 1,129 have succumbed to the illness.
Data also showed that the Ilocos Region has 92,819 cases — 8,175 active and 1,550 deaths.
A total of 115,695 cases have been recorded in the Cagayan Valley.
Of these, 8,480 are active cases while 1,902 have died due to the illness.
Vergeire previously said cases have been decreasing in the National Capital Region (NCR).
“While we are seeing a negative growth in the National Capital Region, we would like to reiterate that this is the time that we should continue hammering on our COVID-19 response so that the number of infections will continue to go down,” she said.
She also urged the public to follow minimum health standards.
Also on Friday, Vergeire said the DOH cannot form a partnership with companies for the distribution of the antiviral pill molnupiravir from Merck without an emergency use authority (EUA).
Some hospitals, however, may use the drug using a compassionate use permit, she said.
Food and Drug Administration director-general Eric Domingo earlier said four hospitals have been granted compassionate special permits to use molnupiravir.
Domingo did not disclose the names of the hospitals.
The drug maker Merck says its pill to treat COVID-19 was shown in a key clinical trial to halve the risk of hospitalization or death when given to high-risk people early in their infections.