|A medical technologist conducts a swab test at a Red Cross testing center in Mandaluyong City. (Photo from Michael Varcas)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] MANILA— World Health Organization (WHO) country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe yesterday advised the government against plans to remove mandatory COVID-19 tests for domestic travelers. At a virtual briefing, the WHO official said the decision to remove COVID testing must be “carefully calibrated” due to the existence of new variants and high cases of infection in some areas of the country, according to PhilStar.
“From this scenario, a very careful decision needs to be made, whether allowing people to travel without testing (should be made). But that has to be very carefully assessed (before) decision can be made because as you know, the process is a risk-based process that needs to be carefully evaluated frequently,” Abeyasinghe pointed out. Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III previously revealed plans to streamline travel requirements – including the removal of swab testing – in a bid to revive domestic tourism.
The DILG official explained that COVID-19 testing should be limited to persons who have symptoms, were exposed to infected individuals, and those who had the disease themselves. Instead of swab tests, travelers will be required to undergo clinical testing at the terminal of origin and terminal of destination. The DILG believes that strict observance of minimum health standards is enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to studies.