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LGUs may still require COVID-19 swab test for fully vaccinated travelers, says DOH

By CHUCK SMITH Published Jul 08, 2021 3:19 pm

The Department of Health (DOH) clarified that local government units may still require fully vaccinated travelers to present their COVID-19 test results before they can enter their destinations.

This is after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases earlier said that fully vaccinated individuals travelling within the country will just have to present their vaccination cards and will no longer need to have COVID-19 swab tests.

In a statement released on Wednesday, July 7, the DOH said that while the IATF recently approved Resolution No. 124-B, which allows vaccination cards as an alternative to LGU testing requirements, they are still ironing out the “operational concerns” of the new resolution.

Hence, IAFT Resolution No. 101, which allows LGUs to require negative RT-PCR test results from travelers, is still in effect.

On Wednesday, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores announced that Boracay is still requiring tourists to present a negative COVID-19 test result despite the IATF’s announcement of easing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals, adding the island will continue requiring RT-PCR tests until they have a system in place to validate the vaccination cards.  

Miraflores explained some tourists tried to fake their RT-PCR tests in the past, so there is a risk that travelers may also fake their vaccination cards.

Philippine National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar said the police will work closely with LGUs to enforce the travel guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals. He added they will also prepare for travelers’ use of fake vaccination cards.

“I am directing all police offices and units to be vigilant against those travelers who might use fake documents to prove that they are fully vaccinated,” Eleazar said.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, meanwhile, urged LGUs to issue vaccination cards that are more legitimate.

“On the issue of vaccination cards, we hope and we have given advice that because of these protocols, our LGUs must improve and that they will be able to issue a vaccination card which is more legit and can be used by people when they do international travels,” Vergeire said.

During the televised palace briefing today, July 8, palace spokesman Harry Roque said that the decision to do away with the swab test requirement for fully vaccinated travelers was based on science.

"Ang siyensa naman pag nabakunahan ka na, ang probability na magkasakit ka nang malala is almost none," said Roque. " Yes you can still catch it, but the probability is also not 100% anymore."

Banner photo by The STAR/Miguel De Guzman, file