The reimposition of the testing requirement as entry protocol in the city is justifiable with the ongoing surge in Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and the threat of the more transmissible variants still present.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong said testing remains to be a vital component of the city’s continuing fight against COVID-19 and in its bid to reopen its economy by easing up quarantine and border restrictions, it must continue to be implemented as infection control tool.
The mayor however said the test requirement “is just a temporary safety measure that may be lifted, if daily COVID-19 cases in the country will decrease or slowed down.”
“Like other localities, Baguio City has been plagued by economic woes brought about by the pandemic. Tourism, the city’s main bread and butter, has been down for a year now. Businesses had been closing shop and people losing their source of livelihood,” he said.
“To prevent the economy from collapsing and people from getting hungry, Baguio City sought to reopen its economy and in line with the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, it eased up its border protocols to entice people and revitalize its tourism industry,” he added.
He said that in line with our thrust to keep a balance between the economy and health and safety, the city had to retain some of its infection control tools and one such measure is the testing requirement at the borders.
“By requiring tests before or upon entry, the city can determine infected persons upon entry and prevent them from transmitting the disease to others,” he said.
The mayor said that to lessen the financial burden of testing, the city government offered testing alternatives to the RT-PCR tests like the Antigen which costs P350 to residents and P500 to tourists and Artificial Intelligence-aided x-ray technology which costs P400.
RT-PCR test remains as the primary testing requirement of the city but since its cost is prohibitive, the Antigen and AI x-ray options were made available to help those who cannot afford the RT-PCR and at the same time put some measure of infection control as these are also known to aid in determining virus infections among those tested.
The mayor said the cost of Antigen depends on the acquisition cost and assured that no city government official or employee profits from testing activities.
The non-inclusion of government officials and employees from testing meanwhile is in consonance with the IATF-EID directive exempting of government personnel on official business from the testing and quarantine protocols of local government units to prevent delay in government transactions. – Aileen P. Refuerzo