PH’s plan to remove COVID-19 testing as a requirement for travel needs careful assessment – WHO official
An official of the World Health Organization (WHO) believes the plan of the government to remove coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing as a requirement for travel needs to be carefully assessed.
“I think it needs to be carefully calibrated on where there is value for removing the requirement for testing,” WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said in a virtual forum on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
“If you are traveling from an area with very low COVID to another area with very low COVID maybe there is an opportunity to relax the need for testing, but that has to be very carefully assessed,” he added.
The WHO official said another important thing to be kept in mind is the threat of the circulation of new variants.
“The fact is we want to minimize the spread of these new variants to areas,” said Abeyasinghe.
“So from this scenario a very careful decision needs to be made,” he added.
Meanwhile, the WHO official also addressed the concerns on the delays in the early rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
“I must reiterate that the commitments from the Philippines to the COVAX were all fulfilled on time. But there have been delays in finalizing the commitments between Pfizer and the Philippine government,” said Abeyasinghe.
“We believe that the limited quantity of Pfizer vaccines will be shipped… once exchange of letters are completed and requirements are met by the Philippine government and Pfizer,” he added.
The Philippines was originally set to receive 117,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines sometime in the middle of February.