Returning OFWs now required to take COVID-19 rapid tests

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Returning OFWs now required to take COVID-19 rapid tests
This photo taken on April 2, 2020 shows returning overseas Filipino workers.
The STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers returning to the country will now be required to undergo rapid antibody testing for the novel coronavirus, the government’s coronavirus task force announced Tuesday.

The measure approved by the task force on Monday will apply to both land-based and sea-based migrant workers who will arrive in the Philippines.

“Sea-based OFW on board cruise ships who have been issued with a clean bill of health by the Bureau of Quarantine upon presentation of certificate of completion of 14-day quarantine issued at the point of origin immediately before departure shall nevertheless be subjected to a rapid antibody testing,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

According to the World Health Organization, which says rapid antibody tests have limited utility for clinical diagnosis, "these test kits detect the presence of antibodies in the blood of people believed to have been infected with COVID-19."

Aside from the mandatory rapid testing, OFWs are now also required to undergo a 14-day facility-based quarantine upon their return to the country.

Prior to the announcement, OFWs were either transported to quarantine facilities to isolate or were only required to undergo self-quarantine.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has so far repatriated 16,682 OFWs—13,213 of whom are seafarers, while 3,469 are land-based.

The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus pandemic rose to 170,042, according to a tally from US-based John Hopkins University. More than 2.4 million confirmed cases have been recorded since the pathogen first emerged in China in December last year.

In the Philippines, the virus has already affected 6,459 individuals, including 613 recoveries and 428 fatalities.


As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 27, 2021 - 8:09pm

Photo shows members of the Philippine National Police deployed in Manila amid COVID-19 threat. The STAR/Edd Gumban

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 16, 2020 declares an enhanced community quarantine over all of mainland Luzon, an expansion of an earlier general community quarantine over the National Capital Region.

The entire National Capital Region—16 cities and a municipality—is under community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, which means the enforcement of social distancing measures like letting fewer people on public transportation, reduced store hours, and the possibiity of curfews.

According to a memorandum issued by the Palace on Saturday, March 14, the quarantine means that "movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points."

Travel restrictions in and out of the capital will also be implemented.

March 27, 2021 - 8:09pm

A labor group says another lockdown will never resolve rising COVID-19 cases in the Philippines after the government announced that Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal are placed under the enhanced community quarantine starting Monday.

“The Duterte government seems to be deliberate in focusing its efforts in imposing quarantine and lockdown measures instead of addressing the rising cases of COVID-19 and the worsening state of the pandemic through medical solutions and scientific approach,” says Defend Jobs Philippines.



March 27, 2021 - 7:06pm

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says the implementation of enhanced community quarantine is meant to slow down the increase of COVID-19 cases, so hospitals and health workers will not be overwhelmed.

March 27, 2021 - 6:37pm

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announces that Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal are placed under enhanced community quarantine starting Monday, March 29.

January 19, 2021 - 6:04pm

Tuguegarao City will be placed under enhanced community quarantine from January 20 to 29 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the city.

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba approved the request of Tuguegarao Mayor Jefferson Soriano to place the city under ECQ for 10 days.

According to the Cagayan Provincial Information Office, the city currently has 246 active cases.


Posted by Cagayan Provincial Information Office on Tuesday, 19 January 2021
April 29, 2020 - 7:51pm

Batangas, one of the provinces hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, has reported no new cases of the disease for two consecutive days.

The provincial DOH Office says the number of COVID-19 cases in the province stood at 91 with no new cases as of Wednesday afternoon.

Lipa City has the most cases with 26, followed by Batangas City (21) and Nasugbu (11).

Tanauan City has the fourth most cases with eight, followed by Bauan (5) and Alitagtag (3). Cuenca and Sto. Tomas City had two cases each, while the municipalities of Calaca, Lemery, Lian, Lobo, Mabini, Mataas na Kahoy, Padre Garcia, San Jose, San Juan, San Pascual and Taal had one case each, respectively. — The Filipino Connection

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