'Make travel affordable': Tourism chief backs price cap on COVID-19 tests

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 27 2020 03:06 PM

Aerial shot of El Nido Palawan taken on Nov. 9, 2018. Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday backed calls to impose a price cap on coronavirus tests amid the country's push to reopen the pandemic-battered tourism sector. 

In a statement, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat appealed for a price cap on the RT-PCR test, considered the gold standard for COVID-19 testing, and the antigen test, a cheaper but less accurate alternative.

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"The DOT supports the call to impose a price cap on RT-PCR and antigen testing to make traveling an affordable option for all," Puyat said. 

Last week, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told TeleRadyo that the government was studying the imposition of a price cap on COVID-19 tests after reports surfaced that diagnosis could go as high as P9,000 in some facilities. 

"Although it is a private enterprise pero nasa public health emergency naman po tayo... it is well within the powers of the government na kumbaga i-regulate natin para di naman sobra-sobra ang sinisingil nila (so they won't overcharge)," Nograles earlier said.

The inter-agency task force leading the country's pandemic response has allowed non-essential overseas travel of Filipinos provided that they have confirmed roundtrip tickets, travel and health insurance, a declaration acknowledging the risks of travel and trip delays and a medical test within 24 hours of departure that clears them of COVID-19.

However, the additional costs for travel have deterred some Filipinos from travelling as some destinations require COVID-19 testing before they are allowed to enter, according to the Philippine Travel Agencies Association.

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