MIAA enhances screening measures amid FLiRT Covid variant concerns

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is supporting efforts by the Department of Health (DOH) and its Bureau of Quarantine to prevent the spread of the FLiRT COVID-19 variant in the country.

In a recent memorandum, the Bureau of Quarantine issued a heightened alert for thorough screening of arriving visitors at all entry points. The public is also encouraged to take basic health precautions against potential infection.

“We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of all passengers and the public,” said MIAA General Manager Eric Jose Ines. “We urge everyone to follow the basic health protocols and guidelines set by health authorities.”

Ines highlighted practices like frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, wearing a mask if experiencing flu-like symptoms, and seeking medical testing if feeling unwell. However, he clarified that wearing masks inside airport terminals remains voluntary.

The MIAA has instructed housekeeping providers to disinfect high-traffic areas and items like check-in counters, immigration counters and security trays. Food concessions were also told to sanitize dining areas.

“These measures will help prevent the spread of the virus,” Ines said.

As of May 25, the Philippines had 6,138 active COVID-19 cases, with a 13.4% cumulative positivity rate, according to DOH data. Metro Manila had the highest number.

The MIAA reported no COVID infections among its personnel at the time of writing.

Completing the e-Travel health declaration provides information to quarantine officers conducting entry screenings. The DOH memo stated this registration is encouraged but did not make it mandatory.

The FLiRT variant, a hybrid strain combining mutations from other Omicron subvariants, was first detected in the U.S. and Europe in late 2023. While more transmissible, it has not been found to cause more severe illness so far.

Health experts continue urging vigilance against COVID-19 even as the pandemic has waned, given the potential for new variants to develop.

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