The government will now allow the foreign spouses and children of Filipino citizens as well as returning Filipinos or “balikbayans,” to enter the Philippines starting Dec. 7.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has amended the travel guidelines for foreigners wanting to enter the country.
Foreign spouses and children of citizens will be allowed to enter the country provided they secure a booking at a quarantine facility and have a swab test schedule at Philippine airports, Roque said.
They, too, must be subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.
1,631 new COVID-19 cases logged
The Philippines logged 1,631 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total to 425,918, as 10 laboratories failed to submit data, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
The DOH also reported 30,047 active cases, which is 7.1 percent of the total cases.
Of the active cases, 84.3 percent are mild; 8.3 are asymptomatic; 4.7 percent are critical; 2.5 percent are severe; and 0.26 percent are moderate.
The DOH also reported 370 new recoveries, bringing to 387,616 the number of patients who have recovered from the disease.
The DOH on Thursday said that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country is generally decreasing, especially in Metro Manila. However, it also saw some increases in other areas in the country.
PNP will enforce health protocols
The Philippine National Police (PNP) will strictly implement minimum health protocols in public places and other areas of convergence for the holiday season, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, said people would usually visit shopping centers and churches during the season as quarantine restrictions have been eased.
Still, he urged people to avoid crowded areas such as churches, malls, and flea markets or bazaars.
He added that police officers would have to be more visible in requiring people to observe minimum health protocols, such as social distancing and the wearing of masks and face shields.
Usana said the management of the churches should also ensure that health standards are being followed during their activities this Christmas season.
Hospitals complain of slow PhilHealth action
A group of private hospitals said Friday they were experiencing slow release of COVID-19 reimbursements from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Dr. Jose Rene De Grano, president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc (PHAPI), said they were in talks with the state-run insurance firm to settle the unpaid claims.
De Grano made the statement after he was asked if they were experiencing delayed payments from PhilHealth like the Philippine Red Cross did.
In mid-October, the PRC suspended its COVID-19 testing of repatriated Filipinos due to the state insurer’s unpaid debt that, at the time, ran close to P1 billion.
On Oct. 27, PhilHealth made a partial payment to the PRC worth P500 million. It then paid another P100 million in partial payment a few weeks later, prompting Red Cross to resume its COVID-19 testing services.