A government task force on Thursday approved the proposal of the provincial government of Aklan and business groups to use saliva instead of nasal and throat swabs in coronavirus testing for tourists bound for Boracay Island.
In an online press conference following a meeting of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), Gov. Florencio Miraflores said testing would be administered by Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and other testing centers accredited by the Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.
Miraflores said the new testing method would take effect upon issuance of an advisory to airlines. He did not cite a date on when the advisory would be issued.
Business groups in Western Visayas region and Malay town, which has jurisdiction over Boracay, have asked the national government to consider the use of the cheaper and faster COVID-19 saliva test for tourists to help hasten the economic recovery of the resort island.
The saliva test is considered less invasive than the nasopharyngeal swab used in the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test because it does not require the insertion of a sterile swab into the nostril and nasopharynx (upper part of the throat).
It is also at least 50-percent cheaper than the RT-PCR test, which costs between P2,800 and P5,000.
In a joint resolution, the Malay Inter-Agency Task Force on the Novel Coronavirus and municipal incident management team also asked the BIATF to approve the use of the saliva RT-PCR test provided it would be administered by PRC.
Tourists bound for Boracay Island are required to provide a negative RT-PCR test result valid within 72 hours before their trip.
But authorities have arrested at least 100 tourists since December last year for submitting falsified RT-PCR test results.
Three of the tourists turned out to be positive of the coronavirus.
Criminal complaints have been filed against those who submitted falsified test results. —NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.
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