Filipinos traveling abroad must secure a negative antigen coronavirus test within 24 hours before departure unless required to take a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test by the country of destination, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
Nograles explained that the testing requirement for outbound travelers seeks to ensure Filipinos are not infectious when they board the airplane.
“Ang rule is it’s antigen (testing) unless the country of destination requires RT-PCR. Kung walang nire-require 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 becuase 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 for Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) 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 roundtrip tickets and adequate travel and health insurance. Travelers must likewise sign an immigration form recognizing risks involved in traveling.
The same resolution also stated that overseas Filipino workers, students abroad and participants accepted in exchange visitor programs, permanent residents of foreign jurisdctions, 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 the coronavirus.