PH revises testing rules for all inbound travelers amid new COVID-19 variants

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — The Philippine government is changing its COVID-19 testing protocols for inbound travelers amid the growing threat of more transmissible COVID-19 variants.

The Department of Health and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday said passengers allowed to enter the country are no longer required to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival. Instead, they will be sent straight to a facility for quarantine then undergo a swab test five days after their arrival in the country. This new rule will start on Feb. 1 and will cover all incoming passengers, regardless of where they came from.

"Arriving passengers, regardless of their origin, shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine upon arrival. They shall then undergo RT-PCR test on the fifth day from their date of arrival in the country, unless the passenger shows symptoms at an earlier date while on quarantine," Roque said in a statement.

Health Department spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said the protocols were updated for "efficiency." But she stressed that passengers can be tested even upon arrival if they are feeling unwell or starting to show flu-like symptoms.

Passengers who test negative for COVID-19 five days after arrival will be endorsed to the local government unit of destination. They need to complete the remainder of the 14-day quarantine under the strict monitoring of the LGU.

The previous order of the COVID-19 task force only covered Filipino passengers, foreigners with valid diplomatic visas or who are working in the country, and spouses and children accompanied by a returning Filipino coming from 36 jurisdictions with confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants.