Philippines bureau instructed to accept Taiwan vaccination certificates

Taipei-The Philippine Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) has been directed to recognize COVID-19 vaccine certificates issued by Taiwan regardless of the vaccine used, meaning individuals vaccinated with the Medigen vaccine no longer have to quarantine upon arrival in the country, according to the Philippine office of Taiwan's state-owned flag carrier China Airlines.

The Philippine Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) sent a letter dated June 7 to the BOQ instructing it to recognize COVID-19 vaccine certificates issued in Taiwan regardless of the vaccine used.

Wang Fu-sheng (???), general manager of China Airlines in the Philippines, told CNA that under current regulations, those who have received a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior are not required to undergo a COVID-19 test or quarantine before entering the Philippines.

For those who have had a second dose of a vaccine at least 14 days prior, as long as they submit a RT-PCR test within 48 hours or a negative antigen rapid screening certificate issued within 24 hours of entering the Philippines, they also do not need to quarantine, Wang said.

However, due to different standards set by various immigration officials, there have been cases where some Taiwanese vaccinated with the Medigen COVID-19 vaccine have been asked to quarantine on entering the Philippines, Wang said.

However, following the IATF-EID instruction, quarantine is not required regardless of vaccine, Wang said.

The official document dated June 7 and signed by Charade B. Mercado-Grande, Inter-Agency Task Force Head of Secretariat, was sent to BOQ Director Ferdinand. S. Salcedo, directing the bureau "to honor the vaccine certificates issued by Taiwan, and allow the entry of foreign nationals carrying said vaccine certificates, without prejudice to the other admission requirements set forth in IATF Resolution No. 168, s. 2022."

Under IATF-EID Resolution 168, inbound passengers do not need to present an RT-PCR test, on conditions that they are 18 years old and above, and have had at least one booster shot against COVID-19, according to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Also exempted from the pre-departure RT-PCR requirement are those aged 12 to 17 who have received two COVID-19 vaccine shots, as well as those aged below 12 accompanied by fully vaccinated or boosted parents or guardians, the PNA said.

The document also stated that a Manila Economic and Culture Office (MECO) letter dated May 19 asked the IATF Technical Advisory Group (IATF-TAG) to make a recommendation on the matter.

On that date, the IATF-TAG, through the Philippine Department of Health, offered no objections to allowing the entry of foreign nationals with unrecognized vaccines, or vaccines that are not part of the National COVID-19 Deployment and Vaccination Plan and the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan was one of the top five sources of tourists visiting the Philippines, with 327,273 Taiwanese heading to the country in 2019.

Moreover, in 2019, Taiwanese tourists spent US$252.10 million (NT$7.46 billion) in the country, according to Philippine Department of Tourism in Taiwan data.

The figures indicate sustained consumer interest and strong potential to expand further, considering the accessibility and proximity of the Philippines and Taiwan, leading MECO to encourage Taiwanese tourists to visit the southeast holiday destination.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel