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Mass testing for COVID-19 starts in Iloilo, but mayor rages at protocol violation

By: - Correspondent / @nestorburgosINQ
/ 05:11 PM April 13, 2020

ILOILO CITY—Mass testing for COVID-19 started in Iloilo City on Monday (April 13) primarily targeting persons believed to be carrying the virus.

But an irate Mayor Jerry Treñas said among those first to be tested are persons who were exposed to an infected Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who were among those repatriated to Iloilo last week.

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Treñas said the mass testing will be done using kits purchased by the city government from P5.5 million donated by Ilonggos and those provided by the national government.

Treñas lambasted the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for allowing the OFWs to be transported by ship to Iloilo from Cebu without undergoing testing and a 14-day quarantine.

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“I am terribly mad at the OWWA. They informed me only the night before the OFWs will be arriving,” Treñas said at a press conference on Monday.

He said at least 94 persons, including health and other city workers, Coast Guard members and ship crew members were exposed to the infected person.

Treñas said this violated protocol on OFW repatriation set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID-19.

The INQUIRER called twice the OWWA Western Visayas office to seek comment but Conie Binarao, the officer-in-charge, was unavailable.

Aside from the infected OFW, two others were retested to confirm possible infection.

The three were among the 47 passengers (including 24 from Iloilo City) and 41 crew members who arrived from Cebu last Thursday (April 9).

“We also want them (OFWs) to be with their families but our safety should not be sacrificed. They should have endured and contained it, security first!” Treñas said.

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He said the OFWs should have been tested before they went home and the list should have been sent a week before their arrival.

“We could have saved our frontliners and the rest of their fellow passengers from the risk,” he said.

He said the city government will no longer allow the repatriation of OFWs unless they have been tested and had gone on 14-day quarantine.

Edited by TSB

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