OFFICIALS of Cebu City and Cebu Province welcomed the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to allowing domestic travel for fully vaccinated individuals and not obligating them to present the negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results currently required by some receiving local government units (LGU).
Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera said the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for which he serves as deputy chief implementer, endorsed to Mayor Edgardo Labella on June 14, a resolution stating that there is no need to collect negative RT-PCR test results and other medical requirements from fully vaccinated employees.
He said the EOC’s recommendation is similar to Resolution 124-B issued by the IATF.
The EOC considers an individual fully vaccinated after 14 days of receiving the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine, Garganera said on Tuesday, July 6, 2021.
He said loosening the requirements for domestic travelers could be seen as an “incentive,” and it could encourage people to register for vaccination as they would no longer have to fulfill paperwork when they decide to travel to other parts of the country.
Garganera said the EOC is waiting for Labella to issue an executive order on this matter.
In Cebu City, 165,241 individuals were already inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine—118,807 received the first dose, while 46,434 received the second dose.
On Tuesday, the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 urged vaccination centers to prioritize available Sinovac vaccines against Covid-19 for second dose inoculations in the next two weeks because the next shipment would be delayed.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Sinovac Biotech has notified the Philippine government that its deliveries for July will begin to arrive only in the second half of the month. He said 2.5 million doses might arrive in the third week. Sinovac is expected to deliver a total of six million doses in July.
Resolution 124-B, approved by the IATF last July 2, is for the interzonal and intrazonal domestic travel of a fully vaccinated individual.
Interzonal travel refers to movement between provinces and cities under different community quarantine classifications, while intrazonal travel refers to the movement between provinces and cities under the same community quarantine classification, without transiting through an area placed under a different classification.
An individual is considered as having fully vaccinated for Covid-19 two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or after receiving a single-dose vaccine.
The vaccines administered to the individual are included in any of these: the emergency use authorization list or compassionate special permit issued by the Food and Drug Administration; or emergency use listing of the World Health Organization.
Presentation of a Covid-19 domestic vaccination card issued by a legitimate vaccinating establishment, or certificate of quarantine completion showing the holder’s vaccination status as may be issued by the Bureau of Quarantine will be “sufficient alternatives to any testing requirement” (before travel or upon arrival) which the LGU of destination may require, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said last June 4.
The new IATF rules also apply to fully vaccinate adult individuals who are 60 years old and above. In addition to interzonal travel, they also allowed intrazonal movement within areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ.
Senior citizens just have to present a Covid-19 domestic vaccination card or certificate of quarantine completion showing their vaccination status as may be issued by the Bureau of Quarantine, and follow the minimum public health standards.
The Cebu Provincial Government allows overseas Filipinos who arrive in Cebu to present their vaccination card, but they still have to take the RT-PCR test after their arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City, according to the Provincial Information Office (PIO).
“Those who wish to return to the country will just undergo a seven-day facility-based quarantine upon arrival instead of 10 days; however, this rule only applies to passengers arriving from what the IATF calls as ‘green countries,’ which are considered as low-risk areas for Covid-19 transmission,” the PIO said.
Resolution 123-C of the IATF states that returning Filipinos who are fully vaccinated from “green countries” need only to stay seven days in a quarantine facility upon their arrival in the country.
“Green countries” are those classified by the Department of Health as low risk countries or jurisdictions based on disease incidence rate.
The IATF identified 57 “green countries” last June 30; some of these are the Philippines’ neighbors in Asia like South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam. (ANV / KAL)