Success of antigen pilot test seen to boost Philippine tourism amid COVID-19

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MANILA, Nov 23 (Mabuhay) — The government is banking on the success of antigen pilot testing to fully boost the country’s local tourism badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacañang said Monday.

Currently on pilot run in Baguio City, antigen testing is seen as a cheaper and faster alternative to the RT-PCR testing, which is among the requirements for anyone visiting travel destinations that have been opened to the public.

“Pag nadeklara na successful itong antigen testing ay mapapabilis po talaga ang ating turismo kasi yung antigen po mabilis at mas mura,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque was reacting to observations that few people seem to be taking advantage of the re-opening of several tourist spots — among them Baguio City and Boracay Island — after months of closure due to the complicated requirements set by authorities.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat had earlier expressed preference to antigen test since its results will come out only after a few minutes, faster than the results from RT-PCR testing.

“Sana nga po sa lalong mabilis na panahon ay mapabilis yung pilot testing [ng antigen test] nang sa gayon po lahat ng lugar sa Pilipinas ay puwedeng gumamit ng antigen,” Roque said.

Meanwhile, in the same interview, Roque said situation in Baguio City remains “under control” despite the reported increase in the number of COVID-19 cases there.

“Under control naman po [ang sitwasyon sa Baguio City] at magaling ang contact tracing diyan sa Baguio at sapat ang critical care capacity sa ngayon,” he said.

Roque said high COVID-19 cases in Benguet may have contributed to the numbers in Baguio City.

Baguio City is under Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the country’s “contact tracing czar.” (MNS)

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