Pinoy traveler stuck in a hotel, waiting for COVID-19 test that may never happen
MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino traveler from Japan who arrived in Manila on June 1 is at a loss waiting for a COVID-19 swab test that he said may never happen.
Andy Navarrete, a banker in Manila, told Inquirer that when his repatriation flight from Japan arrived June 1 at Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), he expected a COVID swab test to be administered right there, and then stay in a hotel for two to five days to wait for the results.
Navarrete is married to a Japanese who lives in Japan with their four children. He left Manila to visit his family in Japan just before the lockdown was imposed on March 16. His return flight to Manila had been postponed due to the extended lockdown, until finally he boarded a repatriation flight on June 1.
“The Coast Guard commandant at the airport gave us an orientation (on the testing protocols for arriving travelers), but he said they cannot do the tests because they had no test kits,” Navarrete told Inquirer.
Navarrete and the other passengers were advised to proceed to their respective hotels where a coordinator will arrange for the tests.
He is not an OFW (overseas Filipino worker) so he knew he would pay for his own hotel stay.
“There was no transportation from the airport so I also had to hire a taxi at my expense,” he said.
Somebody stationed at the desk of the Department of Tourism in the airport helped book his hotel. But when he got to the hotel in Makati, he was told there were no rooms available, and that there was no prior booking in the first place.
He said he would’ve left to just go home since he lives near the airport, but he wanted to follow the protocol. After a few minutes of waiting and thinking what to do, he was told that a hotel guest was checking out, so he agreed to book the room.
“But there was no one [to administer the tests], not even a coordinator. I asked the hotel staff, and they said there was really no one…”
Aside from him, there was a group of seafarers also staying in the hotel, but he learned they’ve all been tested and were just awaiting the results.
Navarrete said he has called up the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Coast Guard, but he couldn’t get straight answers.
Now, on his second night at the hotel, “there’s still no advice, no update,” he said. “The Coast Guard knows my mobile number and the hotel where I’m staying, but I can’t stay here forever.”
He said if nothing happens in the next few days, he’s considering to go home and just get tested on his own. “I will leave a letter with my forwarding address.”
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