DOH-7: We did not defy IATF protocols
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Local health officials here continue to defend Cebu’s Swab-Upon-Arrival policy amid orders from President Rodrigo Duterte for the province to follow protocols from the national government’s anti-COVID task force.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson and chief pathologist of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7), said the protocols in Cebu does not contradict IATF guidelines.
“The testing and quarantine protocols for the OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and ROFs (Returning Overseas Filipinos) in Cebu was crafted after a thorough and diligent review of on the ground data and community preparedness. It does not in any way contradict the IATF guidelines,” said Loreche.
Loreche’s statement came hours after Malacañang Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday, June 14, 2021, announced that President Duterte ordered Cebu to abide by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF).
But Loreche said the Swab-Upon-Arrival policy being implemented here is an additional measure to monitor the spread of COVID-19.
“The mandatory 10-day quarantine is being followed, but instead of the whole 10 days in the hotel facility, OFW or ROF with a negative first swab result is allowed to continue the remaining days of quarantine either in their homes or in the LGU (local government unit) identified facility,” explained Loreche.
“With this innovative protocol plus the fact that it has been in MGCQ (Modified General Community Quarantine) for almost a year (10 months) already is a testament of a committed community response that has been in place since last year,” she added.
In the meantime, Loreche said they will continue to implement the Swab-Upon-Arrival policy as concerned government officials are set to meet once again today, Tuesday (June 15), to discuss the new pronouncements from the Palace.
“We will still implement Swab-Upon-Arrival,” she added.
IATF instructs health authorities nationwide to quarantine arriving ROFs and OFWs for 14 days, and collect swab samples for COVID testing on the seventh day.
But in Cebu, they will undergo ‘double swabbing’.
The first round of swab tests is upon arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
They will only stay in hotel isolation for a maximum of three days if they test negative of the infection before undergoing the second round of swab tests in their respective hometowns.
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