Manila Bulletin

Neg­a­tive anti­gen test needed for Filipinos trav­el­ling abroad

- By GENALYN KABILING Travel · Facebook · Namibia · Nigeria · Saudi Arabia · F.C. Internazionale Milano · Emerging Infectious Diseases · International Automotive Task Force

Filipinos trav­el­ing abroad must se­cure a neg­a­tive anti­gen coro­n­avirus test within 24 hours be­fore de­par­ture un­less re­quired to take a re­verse tran­scrip­tion­poly­merase chain re­ac­tion (RT-PCR) test by the coun­try of des­ti­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Karlo


No­grales ex­plained that the test­ing re­quire­ment for out­bound trav­el­ers seeks to en­sure Filipinos are not in­fec­tious when they board the air­plane.

The gov­ern­ment is also study­ing whether or not to lift the re­stric­tions on the en­try of for­eign trav­el­ers into the coun­try.

"Ang rule is it's anti­gen (test­ing) un­less the coun­try of des­ti­na­tion re­quires RT-PCR. Kung walang nir­erequire ang county of des­ti­na­tion, then you must get an anti­gen (test)," No­grales said dur­ing a fo­rum on Face­book Satur­day.

“In cases na silent, we still want out­bound pas­sen­gers to be tested. We want to have a level of con­fi­dence that the per­son who rides the plane is tested and is not in­fec­tious,” he said.

Anti­gen test­ing, which looks for vi­ral pro­teins from sam­ples col­lected through a nasal swab and val­i­dated in a lab­o­ra­tory, is con­sid­ered a cheaper and faster di­ag­nos­tic test for the coro­n­avirus. The more ex­pen­sive PCR test­ing, that in­volves de­tect­ing the virus' ge­netic ma­te­rial from a swab sam­ple, re­mains the gold stan­dard for con­fir­ma­tory test­ing.

No­grales said he has no in­for­ma­tion yet if anti­gen test­ing fa­cil­i­ties will be set up at the in­ter­na­tional air­ports. He noted though that the ap­pro­pri­ate test­ing shall be fa­cil­i­tated by the air­line car­rier. He urged trav­el­ers to con­tact the air­line com­pa­nies about their ac­cred­ited test­ing cen­ters.

"Pease get in touch with your air­line car­rier to find out the de­tails on where to get the test. Again, anti­gen test un­less your coun­try of des­ti­na­tion re­quires an RT-PCR, then you have to get the RT-PCR na ac­cred­ited ng in­y­ong air­line dahil sila rin na­man ang mag­pa­pa­sok sa inyo (ac­cred­ited by the air­lines be­cause they are the ones who will let you in)," he said.

"Kung hindi ninyo dal­dal­hin yung ac­cred­ited nila, hindi kayo pa­pa­sukin sa ero­plano (Be­cause if you don't bring the test from an ac­cred­ited cen­ter, you might not be al­lowed to board the plane)," he added.

The In­ter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Man­age­ment of Emerg­ing In­fec­tious Dis­eases re­cently lifted the re­stric­tions on the non-es­sen­tial out­bound travel of Filipinos sub­ject to con­di­tions such as anti­gen test­ing as pre-board­ing re­quire­ment ef­fec­tive Oc­to­ber 21.

Un­der IATF Res­o­lu­tion No. 79, those trav­el­ing on tourist visas must also sub­mit con­firmed round-trip tick­ets and ad­e­quate travel and health in­sur­ance. Trav­el­ers must like­wise sign an im­mi­gra­tion form rec­og­niz­ing risks in­volved in trav­el­ing.

The res­o­lu­tion also stated that over­seas Filipino work­ers, stu­dents abroad, and par­tic­i­pants ac­cepted in ex­change vis­i­tor pro­grams, per­ma­nent res­i­dents of for­eign ju­ris­dic­tions, and for­eign na­tion­als may leave for abroad through any of the coun­try’s air­ports or sea­ports.

Upon their re­turn to the coun­try, Filipinos will be re­quired to un­dergo coro­n­avirus test­ing and quar­an­tine as a pre­cau­tion against COVID-19.

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