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Eased protocols for fully-vaxxed travelers up for review—Palace

The new guidelines issued for fully vaccinated travelers from “green” countries and territories can still be revised, Malacañang said on Thursday.

This, after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he was not consulted when the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) decided to ease protocols for fully vaccinated individuals who can avail of “green lanes.”

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who also serves as IATF spokesman, said some members of the task force, including he and Duque, were unable to attend the meeting that tackled the issue.

Roque, nevertheless, said the IATF decision was “based on science,” given that there is only a “minimal risk” for COVID-19 transmission in countries and jurisdictions included in the green list.

However, he said the new rules are “not permanent.”

“We don’t have a permanent resolution. If other countries included in the green list have reported a rise in cases, we can still revise the policies,” he said in Filipino.

Duque said he was at a budget hearing at the Senate when the decision was made.

He said he has always supported five days of quarantine followed by a confirmatory test.

“If I recall, even the President said to just reduce the quarantine period but not do away with [it],” he said.

“(Other) countries can afford to do it because their national vaccine coverage is 30 percent. And not all travelers pass through NCR (National Capital Region). Some passes are going to Davao, Cebu, and other airports, so that’s a cause for concern,” he said.

Roque said members of the IATF will meet Thursday afternoon to discuss the possible revisions to the eased restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers from green countries.

Under IATF-EID Resolution 143 issued on Wednesday, arriving passengers who are qualified for green lanes no longer need to observe a mandatory quarantine upon arrival in the Philippines, so long as they are fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19.

According to the resolution, fully vaccinated Filipinos and foreign must yield a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result within 72 hours before they depart from the country of origin.

Returning Filipinos may also opt to undergo a facility-based quarantine until the release of their negative RT-PCR test result taken in the quarantine facility upon arrival.

Arriving passengers who are no longer required to undergo quarantine are advised to self-monitor for any symptoms until the 14th day.

The IATF-EID on Sept. 30 released the updated roster of green countries and jurisdictions that shall take effect from Oct. 1 to 15.

Those included in the Green List are American Samoa, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Chad, China (mainland), Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Hungary, Madagascar, Mali, Federated States of Micronesia, Montserrat, New Zealand, Niger,

Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Poland, Saba (Special Municipality of the Kingdom of Netherlands), Saint Pierre, Sierra Leone, Sint Eustatius, Taiwan, Algeria, Bhutan, Cook Islands, Eritrea, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niue, North Korea, Saint Helena, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tokelau, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

Topics: Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases , Francisco Duque , Department of Health , Harry Roque
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