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COVID-19 testing no longer required for unvaccinated workers in Alert 1 areas

Based on the new resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF),
unvaccinated employees working on-site will not be required to take RT-PCR tests every two weeks in areas under Alert Level 1.

According to Ivan Mayrina’s “24 Oras” report on Tuesday, only unvaccinated on-site workers who have COVID-19 symptoms are required to undergo RT-PCR tests.

Unvaccinated employees working on-site were previously required to undergo and shoulder the cost of their RT-PCR tests every two weeks as part of the government’s efforts to encourage the public to get their COVID-19 jabs.

However, in Alert Level 2 or higher areas, the two-week testing requirement for unvaccinated workers would remain in place.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante supported the new guidelines, but he added that the government must still encourage the public to receive COVID-19 jabs and booster shots.

“Paluwagan na rin natin ang testing capacity specially for requirement sa workplace. We have to prioritize an engagement... removing the test but making vaccination highly accessible,” Solante said.

Alert level

Apart from the new guidelines, the IATF also amended the matrix for determining the COVID-19 alert level. Under the new matrix, the alert level would be based on the average daily attack rate (ADAR) and healthcare utilization rate.

ADAR pertains to the incidence showing the average number of new cases in a period per 100,000 people, while the healthcare utilization rate means the number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The new matrix will come into use during the July 1 to 15 period.

The Health Department emphasized that both factors needed to be considered in determining the COVID-19 alert level.

“Halimbawa ang kaso pumalo ng between six and 18 per 100,000 population. Hindi pa rin sapat yun. Titignan mo pa rin yung healthcare utilization rate mo, kung ito ba ay pumalo na rin sa 50 to 70% warranting an escalation to level 2,” outgoing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“With this current variant of concern, alam natin na napakataas ng hawahan. But, we expect that less ang number na maho-hospitalize. So even mas mataas ang nag-positive ngayon but that doesn't mean we will elevate our alert level,” Solante said.

While OCTA Research agreed to the changes in the alert level matrix, the firm believed it was still important to monitor the rising positivity rate. — Richa Allyssa Noriega/DVM, GMA News