HANOI — National team chef de mission Ramon Fernandez on Thursday urged the county’s remaining campaigners in the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) not to let their health and safety guards down as the sportsfest enters its critical homestretch.

“I urge our remaining athletes to remain vigilant and not be complacent with regards to the health and safety protocols they must follow to compete in the Vietnam SEA Games. They cannot let their guards down,” said Mr. Fernandez.

“Let not all of their hard work, sacrifice, time and effort go to waste. They trained intensively and came here to compete and not wind up as mere tourists,” the Philippine delegation point man stressed. He was grateful that there have been no reports of athletes and coaches testing positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) since the action in the 31st edition of the regional meet went full blast six days ago.

As a standard procedure, athletes and coaches are required to take antigen tests for the virus a day before their performances so they can participate in their respective events once the results show they are negative, according to Mr. Fernandez.

He said that the contributions of the remaining athletes were important in fueling the Philippine drive to hit the target of finishing third overall in the medal standings with hostilities winding up on Sunday.

Despite a paltry four-gold haul last Tuesday, the Filipino bets clung to third spot with 38 golds, 50 silvers and 66 bronzes.

“But if any of our remaining national athletes, especially our top medal prospects, test positive, how can they contribute to the country’s cause? Sayang naman ang pagpunta nila rito,” Mr. Fernandez, a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), noted.

Meanwhile, he announced that he issued a memo to the entire Philippine delegation last Monday on the health and safety protocols for the SEA Games participants whose events are over and returning to the country.

The PSC official said that athletes and coaches are required to take antigen tests 24 hours and, in special cases, to undergo swab tests 48 hours before returning to Manila.

“The tests are for free and will be conducted by a medical group at the assigned hotels of our Philippine delegation,” he said, adding that the delegates need to show a certificate of the test results upon their arrival in Manila.