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DILG eyes scrapping swab testing as travel requirement

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DILG eyes scrapping swab testing as travel requirement

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is considering scrapping tests for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) as a travel requirement around the country, an official said on Tuesday.

However, DILG Undersecretary for Operations Epimaco Densing 3rd said the approval of the proposal would be up to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

“We are looking into that possibility to no longer have testing [as a travel requirement] because we have talked with the DoH (Department of Health) about this again and again,” Densing said in an interview over dzMM TeleRadyo, when asked about the provincial government of Cebu’s new policy no longer requiring Covid-19 tests for domestic travelers.

The DILG official cited what the DoH said last year that testing should only be mandatory for persons exposed to or showing symptoms of Covid-19.

Densing said they have studied this “scientific” proposal that was consulted with epidemiologists and other medical experts.

As long as the person is following the minimum health standards such as wearing face masks and face shield, maintaining physical distancing, and regular washing of hands, these would be enough compliance, he added.

“So, for our travellers, as long as they are obeying the minimum health standards upon arrival to their destination, they would have at least 95 percent less risk of transmission,” Densing pointed out.

He, however, acknowledged that there are local leaders who are “resistant” to the idea proposed by the department.

Apart from Covid-19 tests, Densing said they were also looking at lifting other travel requirements such as a travel order and local health certificate, which he branded as “irrelevant.”

In a message later in the day, Densing reiterated that the basis for their proposal was the DoH’s opinion.

“Done with the consultations just now and after presenting with the IATF on the next IATF meeting, we will let the task force [to decide on this proposal],” he said.

Densing did not respond to further query from The Manila Times on what specific details were agreed upon by the DILG and local leaders.

Cebu has scrapped the Covid tests despite the rising cases of Covid-19 there and two mutations.