DOH orders ‘heightened surveillance’ on travelers from China

Two days after it rejected calls to impose stricter restrictions on travelers from COVID-hit China, the Department of Health now wants ‘heightened surveillance’ on passengers from the East Asian country.

The Department of Health (DOH) has ordered heightened surveillance on all travelers arriving from China, which is currently seeing a spike in the number of COVID-19 infections.

“Following the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in China, there is a need for the country to intensify the monitoring and implementation of border control protocols for incoming individuals, especially from China, at all ports of entry,” reads an “extremely urgent” memorandum issued by the DOH last December 31.

The memorandum, which was signed by DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, tasked the directors of all Centers for Health Development (CHD) to ensure continuous coordination with concerned agencies and local government units in their respective regions to monitor and provide assistance to the intensified implementation of border control protocols at all ports of entry.

Vergeire also required all CHDs nationwide to continue strict implementation of minimum public health standards to ensure minimal local transmission.

She futher ordered health officials to coordinate with airport and seaport terminal authorities for the possible re-establishment of testing of inbound travelers from high-alert countries.

The DOH earlier directed the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) to intensify quarantine protocols in handling travelers from China.

Foreign travelers who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 need to present a negative pre-departure antigen or RT-PCR test result before travel or upon arrival according to the DOH.

This development came just two days after the DOH said it was not keen to impose travel restrictions on passengers from China, which is grappling with a new wave of fresh COVID-19 cases.

READ: DOH: ‘Not yet time’ to restrict China travelers amid COVID-19 surge

Some other countries, including the United States, Italy, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Taiwan, have earlier imposed tougher measures on visitors from China.

China is currently grappling with an outbreak of new COVID-19 cases after it abandoned its “zero COVID” policy in early December.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation’s official Facebook page

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