Testing on arrival at Cebu airport a must for OFWs, travelers from abroad
CEBU CITY—All Filipinos from abroad, including overseas workers, arriving in this city’s airport will be tested for COVID-19 once they get off the plane, contrary to the protocol set by a government task force which says testing should be done a week after their return.
This policy was put in place after the Cebu provincial board on Monday approved an ordinance supporting the protocols pushed by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who issued Executive Order No. 17 mandating the testing of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and residents based abroad upon their return to the province.
“Upon arrival in Cebu, the DOH (Department of Health) will administer a COVID-19 RT-PCR (real time-polymerase chain reaction) test upon the OFW or returning non-OFW free of charge. Thereafter, and pending the release of the… test results, he or she will be transferred to his or her prebooked hotel,” said Board Member John Ismael Borgonia in his ordinance approved unanimously by the board.
When an OFW or returning resident tests negative, he or she will be allowed to proceed to their final destination. “No other requirement shall be imposed by the (local government unit) in this regard,” Borgonia said.
The ordinance also did not require mandatory quarantine but “transient stay” for returning Filipino travelers from abroad while waiting for the results of their swab test.
At a press conference last week, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced that all passengers arriving in the country would be required to complete 14 days of mandatory quarantine.
Ten of those days would be spent in hotels which were accredited as quarantines while the remaining four days would be spent in home isolation.
Under a policy set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), swab tests will only be done on the seventh day of quarantine. Even if a traveler tests negative for the virus, he or she will still be made to wait through the remaining three days in a designated quarantine.
But Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, the DOH Central Visayas spokesperson, said the Cebu provincial government’s testing upon arrival policy would only apply to Cebu residents.
Those who enter the Mactan-Cebu International Airport but are not residents of Cebu will have to follow the IATF resolution, she said.
—DALE G. ISRAEL INQ
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