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DOT bats for rapid anti-gen tests for airline passengers

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is pushing for a rapid antigen testing for airplane passengers before taking their flights as a measure to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said Thursday

During the House panel deliberations on the proposed 2021 budget of the DOT, Puyat apprised lawmakers on their plan to have passengers undergo rapid antigen testing before boarding.

She said that while reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or swab test is the gold standard for COVID-19 screening, they prefer the rapid antigen since its  results will already come out only after a few minutes.

She added that rapid antigen testing is also already being implemented at the Haneda International Airport and Narita International Airport in Japan.

"Ang maganda sa antigen testing, lumalabas in 15 minutes, so right before boarding. Ang RT-PCR, you have to take it a few days, yung results matagal bago dumating," Puyat said.

"We are pushing for that kasi yun din ang hinihingi ng mga airlines para makapag-travel ang ating mga kababayan via airplane," she added.

However, Puyat said more studies should be made to ensure the applicability of rapid antigen testing for travel, noting that the World Health Organization earlier gave reservations on it a few days ago.

Because of this, she said the DOT resolved to pilot rapid antigen testing first in Baguio City.

"The WHO wants more test on this before they can use it for travel," she said.

"So ang pinag-usapan po this morning na ipa-pilot muna yung antigen testing, siyempre kasama pa rin yung RT-PCR sa Baguio City," she added.

The DOT is proposing a total budget of P3.8 billion for next year, of which P3.5 billion will be allocated to the department proper while P90.3 million will be for the Intramuros Administration and P230.2 million for the National Parks Development Committee. -NB, GMA News