EIGHT UNVACCINATED Filipinos who recently came home from China tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) upon arrival at the main airport in Manila, according to the Health department.
The individuals, who arrived from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2, were “under isolation,” the Department of Health (DoH) said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The individuals are currently under isolation and have undergone confirmatory RT-PCR testing on Dec. 31, 2022 with positive results,” it said. “The department will continue to monitor developments on the matter.”
Under current Philippine protocols, “non-fully vaccinated individuals who are unable to present a negative pre-departure test result are tested upon arrival at the airport,” according to DoH.
Health advocates have been urging the Philippine government to enforce more travel restrictions on inbound travelers from countries with an alarming coronavirus situation, including China, which has been accused of failing to be fully transparent with its pandemic data.
The Philippines plans to welcome more tourists from China, which is expected to further ease restrictions on inbound and outbound travel as it seeks to fully reopen its economy this year.
China has begun dismantling its zero-COVID-19 strategy since December following unusual public protests in different parts of the country.
The US, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, India, Australia, Italy, France, and Spain are among the countries that have already imposed coronavirus tests or additional requirements for passengers arriving from China.
There are worries that China might not be sharing data on new virus strains, which could lead to fresh outbreaks across the world. Chinese authorities have said the current outbreak is driven by versions of the Omicron variant, which has also been detected in the Philippines.
Beijing has always been “publishing information on COVID-19 deaths and severe cases in the spirit of openness and transparency,” a top health chief said at a press briefing held by China’s state council, based on a report by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
DoH assured the public that the government would continue to conduct COVID-19 monitoring and surveillance activities in the country and keep an eye for “global health events that may occur.”
The department urges Filipinos to help prevent transmission sanitation, masking, distancing, good ventilation, and vaccination. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza