FOREIGN leisure tourists who suddenly test positive for Covid-19 while on vacation here in the Philippines will have to quarantine in their hotel rooms unless their condition turns critical.
In a text message to the BusinessMirror, Health Undersecretary and spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire said what will be followed are, “[The] same protocols with the general public.”
Foreign tourists will have to quarantine in the hotel, she said, “but concerned offices should be informed so they get monitored,” stressing that “BoQ [Bureau of Quarantine] should have close coordination with the hotel regarding this [Covid-positive] patient.”
The quarantine period for Covid-positive fully vaccinated tourists can range from seven to 10 days, depending on whether they are asymptomatic or what level of symptoms they exhibit. Those who have come in close contact with the Covid-positive tourist should quarantine for five days from their last exposure.
However, in cases where the tourist exhibits severe symptoms like labored breathing, Vergeire said, either the “LGU [local government unit] or the BoQ can do that [i.e. facilitate the guest’s extraction from the hotel or resort to the hospital].” Under current Department of Health (DOH) guidelines, those who show “severe and critical symptoms shall be isolated for 21 days from the onset of signs and symptoms.”
The Philippines reopened to fully vaccinated foreign leisure tourists from 157 visa-free countries and two Chinese territories (Macau and Hong Kong) on February 10. As of February 11, the DOT estimated some 1,000 foreign tourists had already entered the Philippines. (See, “Canadian tourists are first through the PHL’s doors,” in the BusinessMirror, February 10, 2022.)
Covid guidelines for hotels
As per guidelines for accommodation establishments of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in its Administrative Order No. 2022-001 dated January 31, 2022, “In case a guest is reported to be positive for Covid-19, management shall: (a) Immediately isolate the Covid-19-positive guest; and (b) Coordinate with the LESU (Local Epidemiology and Surveillance Units), BHERT (Barangay Health Emergency Response Team) and/or the BoQ for contact tracing and isolation protocols in accordance with prevailing DOH and BoQ Guidelines.” This applies quarantine, multiple-use, and regular hotels.
A multi-use hotel is an accommodation establishment that is allowed to accept quarantining guests as well as business conferences and social gatherings at prevailing alert level status allowable capacities. A regular hotel accepts only leisure guests.
While the guidelines do not require regular hotels or resorts to designate quarantine or isolation rooms for Covid-positive guests, they do say, “Quarantine guests shall use the same room they are billeted in throughout the entire period of their stay, except when any repair or similar case requires a room transfer. Health and safety protocols shall be observed during the transfer of guests to another room.”
DOH quarantine rules
According to the DOH’s current guidelines contained in its Department memorandum no. 2022-0013 and published on January 14, “All asymptomatic and fully vaccinated confirmed cases, shall isolate for at least 7 days from sample collection date.”
Those individuals suspected or probably have Covid-19, as well as confirmed cases who show mild symptoms “shall isolate for at least 7 days from onset of signs and symptoms.”
Those with moderate symptoms regardless of vaccination status “shall be isolated for at least 10 days from onset of signs and symptoms.” DOH quarantine guidelines can be found in https://bit.ly/3JqlLmD