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IATF: All arriving Filipinos from overseas will be swabbed

THE INTER-AGENCY Task Force for Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) clarified that returning Overseas Filipino Workers and vacationing nationals coming from abroad will be subjected to swab tests upon arrival to the country. 

This is a new tweak in the usual practice of immediately isolating them for 14-days with or without the swab test.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said that the swab test will cover everybody and the procedure will be done at the airport. 

“After that, they will be checked into a hotel while waiting for the result of the swab test,” Año, also the vice-chair of the IATF, said. “If negative, he can go home straight or proceed to the connecting flight.”

If positive, the individual will be endorsed to the isolation facility.

He said the result will be released after two or three days. “But if they want faster results, they can get swabbed at a private hospital but it would be more expensive,” he said.

Also, the city government of Davao reminded the public that travel during the implementation of the community quarantine is limited to returning residents and those who are working or a business to manage. 

“We wish to reiterate the notice that all regular commercial flight airplane passengers to Davao International Airport, including military and private plane passengers, should present upon check-in at the airport of origin, a negative RT-PCR result taken within 48 hours before the departure date,” the statement said.  

Airplane passengers remain to be the highest source of confirmed positive cases.

“It is in the best interest of the entire Mindanao community to control the rate of increase of confirmed positive cases to ensure that the health care situation remains at a manageable level for all LGUs,” it added. 

This will ensure that air travel can remain open and no area will revert to ECQ during the pandemic.

On Friday,  Mayor  Sara Duterte appealed for the understanding of the Davaoeños and all Davao-bound passengers who are required to submit a negative RT-PCR test result, saying it is to ensure the safety and protection of everybody against the coronavirus.

“It’s either we put control measures for the people who are positive to come in the city or we let those who are positive to keep entering the city. And then, all will be compromised),” she said in an interview over the Davao City Disaster Radio on Friday.

The mayor emphasized the need for the government to put in place measures to protect everyone not just in Davao City but also in the neighboring areas. 

“There is a choice to close down the airport so that nobody can enter to control the increasing cases,” she added. “We do not want to ban flights coming in and out of Davao International Airport.”

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) had released an advisory that all airlines should require Davao-based/bound passengers to submit a negative RT-PCR as a pre-requisite for boarding at the airport of origin. The testing will be shouldered by the passengers themselves.

The submission of a negative RT PCR for Davao-bound passengers was enforced after the data from the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit showed that from July 5-13, 2020, the highest confirmed COVID-19 cases in Davao City were travelers from Manila. 

The city government hopes this measure would help Mindanao control the spread of the coronavirus. 

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