(Eagle News) – Local governments in various provinces have expressed their apprehension on possible increase in COVID-19 cases if fully vaccinated individuals would be allowed to travel within the country without requiring them to undergo first COVID-19 testing.
This was relayed by Marinduque Governor Presbitero Velasco Jr., who also serves as the national president of the League of Provinces of the Philippines and national chairman of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.
In an interview with the Eagle News Service program Balitalakayan, Velasco expressed his concern about this relaxing of restrictions on travel, and appealed that local government units be given the discretion to impose COVID-19 RT-PCR tests or antigen tests for incoming travelers, even if they are already fully vaccinated.
-Even fully vaccinated persons can be COVID carriers-
He said that problems could arise, especially since even fully vaccinated individuals could still be infected with COVID-19. They could have milder symptoms or even be asymptomatic, but could still infect others, he noted.
“Meaning to say kung nahawa po sila ay carrier din po. Kaya kung fully vaccinated card lang ang ipe-present, wala hong prior testing yung papasok, eh di puedeng makapasok yung maraming carrier na naman sa aming mga lalawigan,” he said during the interview.
Velasco said mga LGU executives expressed their concern when news about lessening restrictions on travel of full vaccinated individuals within the country was announced.
“Maraming nagpahayag ng agam-agam na makaka-grabe ng sitwasyong kung papayahan yung fully vaccinated without testing,” he said.
Velasco, a former member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) and a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, thus welcomed the clarification made by the Department of Health (DOH) that COVID-19 testing would still be required for fully vaccinated travelers.
He thanked the DOH for again returning the discretion of LGUs to require COVID-19 testing for travelers entering their respective jurisdictions.
-Balancing the opening of economy-
Velasco said that while opening up the economy is important, this should be balanced with protocols that would ensure there would be no spike in cases. The policies should also take into consideration the various COVID-19 emerging variants that are said to be more infectious than the original strain.
He noted that mere thermal checks for travelers or the filling-up of medical and exposure assessment forms is not enough as these would not be able to fully check the COVID-19 condition of a traveler.
He said that the asymptomatic cases would not be detected by thermal checks.
There are still many people who have not been vaccinated in the provinces, he said.
“Kaya nga po naghihigpit po tayo dahil nakikita natin ang pagtaas ng hawahan, kaya delikado po,” he said.
Velasco said that it is also vital that the LGUs be consulted regarding relaxing of curbs on travel within the country, as they are more aware of the situation on the ground.
(Eagle News Service)