The Department of Tourism (DOT) has asked laboratories in the country to reduce the cost of their RT-PCR testing to encourage more people to visit and help the tourism sector recover faster.
The test remains out of reach for budget travelers, according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, but reducing the price would encourage domestic travel without jeopardizing the test-before-travel rule.
“I brought this up with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) because a slash in the cost of RT-PCR tests would encourage more travelers to pursue their travel plans,” Romulo-Puyat said Friday, July 16.
Besides increasing tourism, Romulo-Puyat claims that the measure would benefit returning overseas Filipinos who must pass similar examinations upon arrival.
In certain high-end medical institutions, the cost of RT-PCR tests varies from P1,500 to P5,000, although the IATF-EID has received complaints of others charging up to P10,000.
At present, the price cap is set at PHP5,000 for private laboratories and PHP3,800 for public laboratories.
Citing the Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry, the DOT assured health facilities that they would not be sanctioned should they lower the prices of their RT-PCR tests.
Romulo-Puyat has also called on the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to allow and certify more facilities that may perform saliva-based RT-PCR tests in addition to Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
“If more hospitals and laboratories are certified to conduct saliva tests, this cheaper alternative will be more accessible to the public and will be recognized by more LGUs in their entry requirements for local travelers. But needless to say, the facilities conducting such tests should be thoroughly screened. We defer to DOH in addressing this concern,” she said, citing the PHP2,000 saliva test at the PRC.
The agency, on the other hand, continues to accept qualified tourists applying for its subsidized RT-PCR test at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC).
Since last year, around 41,000 tourists have availed of the subsidy, both at the PCMC and UP-Philippine General Hospital. (PNA)