Cebuano OFWs, once the facility is built, could then directly board flights back to their respective island without having to wait for the results of the tests taken in Manila.
Mark Ralston/AFP
MCIA constructs COVID-19 testing facility
Lorraine L. Ecarma (The Freeman) - May 23, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  A COVID-19 testing facility is under works at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in order to expedite the transit of returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to Cebu.

Cebuano OFWs, once the facility is built, could then directly board flights back to their respective island without having to wait for the results of the tests taken in Manila.

This is according to a news release by Sugbo News, the official news outlet of the Capitol Public Information Office.

Andrew Harisson, the chief executive advisor of the GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC), said this system would make the repatriation of Cebuano OFWs more efficient.

“Now, we have to remember that OFWs are heroes of the nation. They’ve made sacrifices, left their families behind to help contribute what they can which is everything that they have. And so we have to create a system where OFWs can arrive efficiently,” he said.

“We can provide additional capacity to DOH for testing of OFWs upon arrival, so that Cebu can also have international arrivals,” he added.

MCIA has already started the 15-day construction of the facility. After this, they will wait for certification from the Department of Health (DoH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) before the testing facility could be operational.

This move, according to Harisson, will also help decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport which now serves as a conduit for OFWs repatriating to their respective provinces in the country.

Under the present system, OFWs land in Manila where they get tested under a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for SARS-Cov-2. Those who test negative will be allowed transit while those who test positive will undergo necessary health protocols in Manila.

In the planned system, OFWs who land at the MCIA will immediately be ushered to the facility for oral and nose swabbing for PCR testing.

After this, they will then be transported to a hotel that has previously been identified as a quarantine area. Here, they will be staying for 24 hours for their results.

Harisson was also quoted saying that this new system of repatriation for Cebuano OFWs will also aid the economy back on its feet. He added that by accommodating the stay of arriving OFWs, hotel staff and employees would be able to earn from the arrivals.

“If OFWs can start arriving, and they use the local hotels as quarantine locations, those people who work in those hotels, their livelihoods will be protected,” he said.

Once the OFWs test negative for the coronavirus disease, they will then be issued a certificate from DOH and then transported to their home cities or municipalities, Governor Gwen Garcia said.

Upon arrival, they will be subjected to existing health and safety protocols established in their locality. This may include a mandatory 14-day quarantine. GAN (FREEMAN)

TESTING FACILITY
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