Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has asked for the lowering of the COVID-19 tests price to spur tourism in the Philippines. 

On Friday (July 16), Romulo-Puyat urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to entertain her request. 

According to her, the current cost of tests, which is up to Php 5,000, is still ‘expensive and out of reach.’

“A slash in the cost of RT-PCR tests would encourage more travelers to pursue their travel plans. In return, this will spur economic activities and reinvigorate the tourism industry,” Romulo-Puyat said in a statement

Romulo-Puyat said making the COVID-19 tests cheaper will not only boost tourism in the country but will also help in making sure that safety requirements are met, specifically when it comes to local government units. 

It’ll also be beneficial towards returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and OFWs currently abroad who are required to undergo the test, she added. 

Romulo-Puyat also suggested the certification of more facilities performing saliva-based RT-PCR tests. 

“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,” she said.

“But needless to say, the facilities conducting such tests should be thoroughly screened. We defer to the Department of Health in addressing this concern.”

At present, only the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has been certified by the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine to process saliva RT-PCR tests. 

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