By Rey Anthony H. Chiu | 08:48 PM September 08, 2020
There will be no more rapid diagnostic test results required for locally stranded individuals (LSI) before they are given authority to travel back home.
This as the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in its advisory dated Aug. 25, 2020 informed governors, Highly Urbanized City mayors, and DILG regional and provincial directors that the use of Rapid Antibody Diagnostic Test (RADT) is not only an additional cost to passengers but it is also is causing delays for LSIs in securing the necessary documents for their travel back home.
Citing Department of Health Memorandum No. 2020-0180 dated Aug. 16, 2020, the DILG through Assistant Secretary for International Relations and Other Interior Sector Concerns Marcelo Morales, said the use of RADT kits shall not be used as a stand-alone test to definitively diagnose or rule out corona virus disease (COVID-19).
In the advisory, DILG through Morales added that requiring the LSI to secure a RADT negative result is not provided in the policy for management of LSIs.
DILG reiterated that the DOH has ruled that RADT has a low reliability rate, aside from the fact that it has to be used in conjunction with real-time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR).
Due to the uncertainty of possibly starting local transmissions from accepted LSIs, local government units have put up independent measures guiding the policies in the travel of LSIs.
To settle the issue, the Inter Agency task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease came up with Refined Policy Guidelines on the Management of LSIs.
Arguing on this, the DILG said the Refined Guidelines only require Medical Clearance Certificate and Travel Authority prior to the departure of the LSI from the place of origin.
According to the DILG, to secure a Travel Authority, an LSI must first secure a Barangay Certification that he has not had COVID-19 infection or has not traveled to any COVID-hotspot area in the last 14 days.
This certification will be required as he goes to the Municipal or City Health Office to obtain a Medical Clearance Certificate, which is an important document to present when claiming for Travel Authority from the local police.
As one secures a Travel Authority, for Boholanos, it is incumbent upon the LSI to also contact his receiving LGU LSI Focal Person to allow them to set up the isolation facility or quarantine bed for the returning LSI.
In most cases, the LSI’s return is also facilitated by the Philippine National Police through their networks and an isolation slot can be readied, as long as the receiving LGU finds a vacancy in their isolation beds.
Upon arrival at the place of destination, the LSI would be subjected to an RT-PCR testing at the receiving LGU.
On this, the DILG said there is no need to further conduct RADT and RT-PCR tests at the sending LGU.
Moreover, DILG said the cost of the RT PCR testing shall be covered by the receiving LGU and not by the LSIs.