Mactan airport opens COVID-19 testing lab
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - July 14, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), together with the GMR MEGAWIDE Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC), recently started operating the Philippines’ and world’s first airport-dedicated COVID-19 PCR testing laboratory.

This is in compliance with the directive of Department of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade for airports to have a dedicated molecular laboratory.

The said laboratory holds a BSL-2 certification from the Department of Health (DOH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The 400-square-meter laboratory is designed to process 1,500 to 3,000 tests per day with test results available after 24 hours, the shortest time in the country to release swab test results.

“When it became clear that testing capability was going to be a prerequisite for the resumption of international travel, we immediately embarked on the ambitious project of putting up the fastest built and accredited molecular laboratory with the capability to do mass testing and generate results in the quickest possible time,” said MCIAA General Manager and CEO Atty. Steve Dicdican.

Dicdican said that the airport will not profit a single cent from the laboratory because they envisioned this to be their contribution to the government’s effort to bring home stranded OFWs at minimal cost and in jumpstarting the economy.

The COVID-19 testing laboratory, with state-of-the-art facilities, can process about 900 swab samples per day rising to 2,000 per day for the benefit of arriving OFWs, seafarers, and locally stranded individuals.

Testing booths are set up in T2 Arrival Reclaim with swab sampling taking a maximum of five minutes, after which OFW’s and seafarers will be transferred to designated quarantine facilities of the DOH and the LGUs. Test results will be available online to DOH after 24-hours.

Dicdican said that this initiative will augment the government’s testing capacity and fasttrack the processing of arriving OFWs and seafarers and decongest Manila.

At the same time, he said it will help alleviate the plight of OFWs and seafarers who desperately want to return to the Visayas and Mindanao but are stranded in quarantine centers in Luzon while waiting for their COVID-19 test results.

Once swab samples are taken, OFWs and seafarers will be billeted in hotels designated as quarantine facilities by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Tourism while waiting for their test results.

MCIA, on the other hand, has reminded arriving international passengers to strictly adhere to the following protocols upon check-in at their port of origin and upon arrival at MCIA.

“All international passengers arriving at MCIA starting July 15 are required to register using the online MCIA Passenger Arrival Registration Form at least two days prior to departure,” said the MCIA, in a press statement.

As of today, all international commercial flights remain suspended at MCIA. The arrival protocols are applicable to passengers arriving via international sweeper or repatriation flights, or rerouted flights from Manila due to quarantine processing limitations.

All passengers arriving before July 15 must follow the manual process of filling out the forms upon check-in at their port of origin.  GAN (FREEMAN)

MACTAN-CEBU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY
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