OFW at the airport

Travel Guide For Returning Filipinos And Foreigners To The Philippines

The quarantine measure may have been loosened up but the virus is still at large and there’ still an ongoing pandemic. With the continuous spread of the coronavirus around the world, it’s no time for the Philippines to let its guard down especially when it comes to its travel guidelines. 

The Philippine government recently rolled out a set of guidelines for OFWs for testing and quarantine upon arrival in the country from overseas.  Before OFWs can enter the country and move on to their respective cities and homes, they will need to be testing and placed under quarantine, in an effort to contain the virus. 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, traveling during this pandemic period will be challenging and almost impossible. If you’re an OFW who’s planning to travel back to the Philippines, here are the things that you should be aware of. 

Who will be tested and quarantined?

According to the government coronavirus task force’s Resolution No. 30 and the Department of Health’s Memorandum No. 2020-0200 or its guidelines on the management of arriving passengers, the following individuals will undergo mandatory testing and quarantine.

For your information

  • Documented and undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)
  • Non-OFWs such as returning students, scholars, exchange visitors, tourists, diplomats and their dependents
  • Foreigners

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier announced that only a limited number of foreigners are allowed to enter the country due to the current travel restrictions in place. Among those individuals are the following:

  • Foreign spouses and children of Filipinos 
  • Visa holders 
  • Dependents of foreign officials

What happens upon your arrival in the Philippines?

Travelers arriving in the Philippines will have to go through several steps in order to evaluate their health situation. 

1. A thermal scan and collection of health declaration card will be carried out by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ). (A case investigation form will be provided upon your departure from certain countries, you can download the form here if it applies to your origin country.)

2. Arriving passengers will be split into two groups:  “stringent”  and “mandatory” quarantine.

You will be sorted or designated to the appropriate group based on the following criteria:

  • Stringent quarantine: 
    • Passengers showing symptoms of the disease
    • Country of origin or lay-over is one has a high level of community transmission based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest situation report.
  • Mandatory quarantine
    • Passengers with no symptoms
    • Country of origin or lay-over has not been classified as a high level of community transmission area.

Stringent quarantine vs mandatory quarantine?

According to the health guidelines, individuals who will be placed under stringent quarantine will be under the supervision of the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) in their designated quarantine facility that caters to the criteria under Stringent Quarantine (as discussed above). A real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test will also be administered to everyone placed in this quarantine measure. 

Meanwhile, in mandatory quarantine, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) or the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will facilitate the quarantine measure.

The next steps in the quarantine process are the following:

1. Testing procedure

  1. Orientation on the specific quarantine protocols will be carried out by a quarantine medical officer (QMO).
  2. Filling out of pertinent documents through “one-stop shop”. 
  3. Government officials will then arrange your screening process with other airport agencies such as the Bureau of Immigration and transportation,.
  4. You’ll get tested for the corona virus disease.

For people who are classified for the stringent quarantine measure

The coast guard and quarantine personnel in collaboration with a testing laboratory will swab you for a PCR test at either at the airport where you arrived or at the quarantine facility you will be housed in.

For people who are classified for the mandatory quarantine measure

A rapid test will instead be conducted by a designated medical team from the coast guard at your port of entry as a baseline test. They will be doing this in coordination with the BOQ. PCR testing may only be done if there are enough supplies or if the National Task Force COVID-19 permits it. 

9e visa holders

Health guidelines also allow entry of 9e visa holders and their dependents (visas issued to foreign government officials). They are automatically classified for mandatory quarantine and to undergo PCR testing, but the testing should be done at a DOH-licensed testing facility at their own expense.

2. Result processing

After the testing process, you will be transported directly to a designated stringent or mandatory quarantine facility.

  • For OFWs, their manning agency and OWWA will shoulder the expenses for their accommodations.
  • For Non-OFWs and foreigners, they will have to shoulder the cost of their accommodations and they can choose a  government-approved quarantine facility. 

The costs will vary per quarantine facility. The BOQ or OWWA will have to endorse the individual to the officer-in-charge fo their chosen quarantine facility before they can admit themselves there. 

You can find the list of quarantine facilities here

The following health protocols are applicable to both stringent or mandatory quarantine:

  1. Once settled in the quarantine facility, constant monitoring of the health condition will be implemented.
  2. You’ll stay in quarantine until your test results are received.

For individuals who are under mandatory quarantine and are tested with a rapid antibody test, the isolation is 14 days, followed by another test. If symptoms of coronavirus develop during the quarantine period, a nasal swab will be administered for a PCR test.

3. Getting your test result

The following are the steps for both mandatory and stringent testing. 

Positive PCR test

  1. You’ll be transferred to a referral hospital or temporary treatment and monitoring facility where you’ll receive clinical care as a coronavirus patient. The DOH’s Health Emergency Management will decide whether you’ll be referred to a hospital or treatment center based on further health protocols.
  2. A medical certificate will be issued once you are clear for discharge. 
  3. Before being allowed to head back home, you will be brought to your local government unit (LGU). 
  4. As part of the health protocol, your LGU will still advise a 14-day home quarantine. 

Negative PCR test

  1. You’ll be allowed to leave your quarantine accommodations and once cleared for discharge, you’ll be issued a medical certificate.
  2. Before being allowed to head back home, you will be brought to your local government unit (LGU). 
  3. As part of the health protocol, your LGU will still advise a 14-day home quarantine. 

Rapid test

Another test will be done to you after your 14-day mandatory quarantine. There will be a few possible scenarios and processes depending on your result:

  1. If you are IgM-positive but IgG-negative, you will be further quarantined for another 7 days followed by another test.
  2. If you’re IgM-positive but IgG-negative for two consecutive re-testings after the first 14 days of quarantine, a potential false-positive result will be considered. 

Your results will be forwarded to infectious disease specialists to further examine it and your quarantine personnel will also coordinate with the HEMB for further medical referral.

When will you be released from quarantine?

  1. When your test results how both IgM and IgG are negative, plus you’re asymptomatic
  2. When both IgM and IgG are positive, and you’re asymptomatic
  3. When you’re IgG-positive and you’re asymptomatic.

What is IgM and IgG?

Immunoglobulin M (IgM): Found mainly in blood and lymph fluid, this is the first antibody the body makes when it fights a new infection.

Immunoglobulin G (IgG): This is the most common antibody. It’s in blood and other body fluids and protects against bacterial and viral infections. IgG can take time to form after an infection.

Source: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/test-immunoglobulins.html

After your quarantine period, as part of the protocol to prevent transmission, you will be endorsed to your LGU before allowing you to go back to your residence.


Source 1, 2, 3

Leave your comment