IN light of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Baguio City, the local government has re-implemented stricter measures and travel requirements at the border inbound to the city.
From Friday onwards, the city returned to requiring negative reverse transcriptase – polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or antigen tests before entry to the city.
Test results are valid for only three days or 72 hours for non-Baguio residents, while Baguio residents can use test results from the past 30 days from the point of entry or exit.
Tourists who do not have test results can avail of antigen tests at the triage for P350 for residents and P500 for tourists, depending on test kit availability.
Baguio is also now turning away non-residents who cannot present their quick response (QR) codes, acquired from registering under the online Baguio Visitor Travel and Assistance (VISITA) system.
According to Atty. Althea Alberto from the city mayor’s office, some tourists have taken to registering under the VISITA system en route to Baguio and arriving without QR codes, which has added to the workload of the triage officers without warning.
As such, Baguio has taken to mandating proper and prior registration into the system before traveling to the city.
Meanwhile, people who need to register under the health declaration form (HDF) such as authorized persons outside of residence (APOR) or Baguio residents can fill out their forms at the border provided they have their other required documents.
Negative results of saliva, antigen or RT-PCR tests done outside of the city, but submitted within 72 hours will be accepted.
Confirmatory RT-PCR tests will be administered to symptomatic travelers or tourists or those who have tested positive with AG, with quarantine pending the release of results. Refusal of entry or referral to the nearest health facility may be done for travelers confirmed positive through RT-PCR, the gold standard test for Covid-19.
As an alternative to saliva, AG or RT-PCR tests, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) X-ray scan may be availed of by travelers, the machine to be installed and ready on Monday, March 22.
During the regular City Ugnayan on Wednesday afternoon, Atty Althea Alberto, executive assistant to Mayor Magalong,, confirmed that the following should be tested for Covid-19:
• Non-resident Private Sector Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APORs) on Official Travel;
• Non-Resident Travelers on personal, leisure, or non-work related travel purposes;
• Tourists; and,
• Returning Baguio Residents (RBRs).
Other travelers required to be tested or would need negative antigen, saliva or RT-PCR test results, done within thirty days are:
• Private sector APORs who currently reside, or work, in Baguio City, and traveling daily or weekly through city borders on a home-to-work and vice-versa route; and,
• Resident Non-APORs returning to the city from personal, leisure, or non work-related travels in other localities.
The following are exempted from testing:
• Government Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR) on official travel;
• Passing through travelers;
• Drop and Go (drivers);
• Emergency and Non-Emergency Medical Cases; and
• Cargo, Utilities, and those on humanitarian causes.
Emergency and non-emergency medical cases should follow the health protocols determined by the medical facility of their choice or being referred to.
No tests are required for resident health workers as they are regularly tested, but would have to be health-checked at the triage.
Registration with hdf.baguio.gov.ph or visita.baguio.gov.ph should also be done, with QR or QTP code presented at the borders by travelers or tourists. Aside from the Covid-19 test results and hdf registration, valid government IDs, documents and licenses as proof of business, transactions, appointments, and employment need to also be presented by the travelers when requested at the borders.
Residents of Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) may register online or on downloadable forms at hdf.baguio.gov.ph when travelling within the area. Protocols outside of the BLISTT area apply for travelers.
Travelers should also use face shield and mask, practice minimum health protocols, and observe physical distancing, Alberto pointed out during the media forum.
Said guidelines were crafted based on earlier issues from the Inter-Agency Local Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) which the city has adopted to enforce minimum public health standards.
AG tests are less expensive alternatives to RT-PCR and serve as additional safety precaution for screening travelers as Covid-19 dedicated hospital facilities nears capacity for occupancy, the EO states. – with reports by Julie G. Fianza