THE Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas, with the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav) and Project Balik Buhay, officially launched the free swab testing to returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) international arrival area.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH-Central Luzon chief pathologist and spokesperson, in a statement said the free swabbing and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for all OFWs and returning resident arrivals on international flights at MCIA started on March 31, 2021.
She said this move to test for free upon arrival OFWs "unburdens" the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (Owwa) and also keeps them from spending too much on OFWs' hotel stays.
“This is in response to the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for the fast-tracking of the testing and the release of results for the OFWs and returning residents,” said Michael Lloyd Dino, Opav secretary.
He also said this move will allow OFWs and returning residents to be able to go home quickly instead of spending time longer at the quarantine facilities.
Dino said they hope that this initiative will continue to help decline Covid-19 cases in Cebu and the region, noting that MCIA is one of the major aviation hubs in the country.
There are currently 11 testing booths put up at the international arrival area of MCIA.
Loreche said the DOH-Central Visayas deployed a team at the airport to conduct testing for arriving passengers.
As of April 2, the DOH-Central Visayas team had taken 1,061 swab tests. Of this number, 243 were swabbed on March 31; 364 on April 1; and 499 on April 2.
She added if a passenger yielded negative results, he or she can return home; however, if he tested positive, he or she will be turned over to the Temporary Treatment Mega Facility and Isolation Facility of the concerned local government units.
The results of the swab tests will be released within 24 to 48 hours.
DOH-Central Visayas is also seeking sponsorship for test kits and consumables from the private sector so they could attain "operational sustainability," Loreche said.
Meanwhile, the Lapu-Lapu City Government also seeks a similar service for domestic arrivals.
“Mayor Ahong (Chan) of Lapu-Lapu City submitted a letter of request for domestic arrivals but we will have to meet with our team on Monday to discuss this,” Loreche said. (WBS with PR)