Metro Manila mayors are set to decide whether to reimpose travel restrictions on unvaccinated young children after a 2-year-old boy tested positive for COVID-19 following a visit to the mall, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Sunday.
Año told radio dzBB that Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos Jr. said the mayors would tackle the issue this week at a meeting.
The mayors on Friday said they will review the guidelines for allowing children outdoors, including inside malls.
Minors have been allowed to go out of their homes and move around under Alert Level 2 as the government opens up more establishments to spur the economy.
Año said they would also have to consult with pediatric experts.
Local government units (LGUs) have the authority to reimpose restrictions if they are needed, Año said.
He added that they are also investigating the report about the 2-year-old boy to see if the test produced a false positive.
“It's too early to make any conclusions, but it's good that we study the matter,” he said.
The Department of Health said the case of the 2-year-old boy would not affect the Alert Level 2 status of Metro Manila.
Also on Sunday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that, so far, there have been no adverse reactions reported among children in the 12-17 age group who got their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines.
FDA Director General Eric Domingo told radio dzBB that only a few children -- nine from those who got the Pfizer vaccine, and one who got Moderna -- experienced allergies, hyperventilation, and post-vaccination body pain but they all got better the next day.
At present, the FDA has approved only Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 12 to 17.
“So far, with about 400,000 minors already vaccinated, we have not seen any adverse events that really caused problems,” Domingo said in Filipino.
Domingo also said that minors with no underlying conditions need not present medical certificates from their doctors before getting vaccinated.
The government started its pediatric inoculation program on Oct. 15 for those with comorbidities, and on Nov. 3 for all minors in the 12-17 age group.
Government data show that there are 12.7 million children ages 12 to 17 in the country, with 1.2 million of them having comorbidities. The government is targeting to vaccinate 80 percent or about 10 million of them by December 2021.
For the vaccination of kids ages 5 to 11, Domingo said they might be receiving only half of the dose due to their lighter body weight.
Año also said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has recommended that face shields be required only under certain alert levels. He would not say, however, at what level the shields would no longer be required.
More tourist destinations, meanwhile, have decided to waive RT-PCR tests for travelers in favor of proof of full vaccination.
On Nov. 13, 2021, the popular tourism sites in Tarlac, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija no longer require Rt-PCR tests while starting Nov. 15, the islands of, Camiguin, Oriental Mindoro, Masbate, Camarines Norte, Iloilo and the province of Batangas will also waive the said test.
Boracay, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Oriental, Bulacan, and Cebu Province will be waiving the RT-PCR test as a travel requirement on Nov. 16, 2021.
“With the lifting of the testing requirements for fully vaccinated visitors to these destinations, travel has become more affordable and accessible for domestic tourists, especially with the coming holiday season,” said Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.
In lieu of the RT-PCR test, the destinations require only vaccination cards issued by the Department of Health (DOH) or the local government unit (LGU) where the vaccination was administered.
Puyat, however, reminded tourists to observe minimum health and safety protocols when traveling.
Puyat also reminded tourism businesses, workers, and other stakeholders not to be complacent with the easing of domestic travel to prevent COVID-19 cases from increasing—which could halt the recovery of the country's tourism industry.
“Seeing how the reopening of tourism all over the country is helping Filipinos return to their jobs, we cannot afford a new surge of COVID-19 infections and a return to the restrictions imposed by a stricter quarantine. Let us do our individual parts to ensure that there will be no outbreaks in our destinations,” she said.
She added that in Boracay Island alone, the vaccination rate among tourism workers reached 100 percent for those who have received the first dose, which means more workers—who were not included in the DOT’s initial target—are now able to return to their jobs.
Other destinations that have started accepting vaccination cards for travel purposes are San Vicente, Palawan, Naga City, Camarines Sur, Baguio City, Benguet, Cebu City and Mandaue City, Clark Freeport Zone, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Dingalan in Aurora, Maasin City and Ormoc in Leyte, Calbayog City in Samar and Mati, Davao Oriental.
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