PH experts suggest 10-day quarantine for OFW returnees
Health experts from the Philippine government’s advisory panel advised that returning overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) quarantine period may be shortened from 14 days to 10 days.
In a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, Dr. Edsel Salvaña of the Philippine health department’s Technical Advisory Group said asymptomatic OFWs can even do away with Covid-19 testing if quarantine is strictly enforced.
The meeting was called after Labour and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III raised concerns over the depletion of the department’s funds for placing newly arrived workers under quarantine.
Current protocols for inbound OFWs are to go under quarantine for five days, to get tested, and to return to their hometown to complete the 14-day period.
But Salvaña said some infections could still not be netted by the fifth day after possible exposure. He then showed data that there is a higher chance for Covid-19 positive test results to appear eight days post-exposure.
“If we are going to test someone who does not have symptoms, it should be done on the seventh day,” Salvaña said. “Ideally pa rin [still] facility-based quarantine but we recognize that this is very expensive.”
Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, another member of the expert panel, said 10 days is the minimum length of quarantine after possible exposure to SARS-CoV-2. But she emphasized the strict implementation of quarantine.
Hong Kong has implemented a 21-day quarantine for all inbound travelers to detect any Covid-19 infections with longer incubation times. The prolonged period was for preventing the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 variants in the community.
Duterte was not keen on shortening the quarantine period for OFW returnees.
“I am not ready for a compromise here of about—lalo na ngayon. Iyong ibang sakit siguro, puwede pa ‘yong mga rabies-rabies diyan. Pero ito, eh talagang as you have said, it’s a ‘dapo dito, dapo doon,’” Duterte said.
[Translation: I am not ready for a compromise here of about—especially now. For other disease, like rabies, maybe we can. But for this, as you have said, it really infects here and there.]