Cebu airport to build COVID-19 test laboratory
CEBU CITY –– The Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) is building a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) laboratory.
The facility, which can process at least 900 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests per day, is expected to be completed in 15 days, or on the first week of June, said Andrew Harrison, chief executive advisor of the GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) operates the MCIA.
Harrison said MCIA’s laboratory can process more than the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, which could test only around 400 persons per day.
MCIA’s laboratory, he said, would be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, where results of the RT-PCR tests are available after 24 hours.
At present, the laboratory will be primarily for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and seafarers, but would soon accommodate other individuals.
The GMCAC as well as the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas and the Bureau of Quarantine held a meeting with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on Tuesday to discuss the airport’s plan to build its testing facility to help the Department of Health (DOH).
The GMCAC is also arranging hotel accommodations for returning OFWs and seafarers as a quarantine facility while awaiting the test results within 24 hours.
Harrison said they were also coordinating with local governments in Cebu so that other hotels outside Lapu-Lapu City, where the MCIA is located, could also serve as a quarantine facility.
Expenses for the testing, he said, would be shouldered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, including the one-day hotel accommodation.
Harrison said they were expecting more than 20,000 OFWs to return home.
The GMCAC also tapped the services of private laboratory Prime Care to manage the facility located within the MCIA compound.
“We will fund the construction of the laboratory and the operator of the lab. There is no commercial implication for this, by the way, because the airport does not generate income from the arriving passengers. This is not being done for commercial purposes. This is being done because we want to help and we want to play our part to help the government and to kickstart our economy,” Harrison said.
While the laboratory facility will be ready in 15 days, he said he could not yet say when it would be operational.
He said they would work for its accreditation from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) as quickly as possible.
Hopefully, he said the accreditation and other protocols would be immediately processed by the RITM and the DOH.
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