Capitol to look for ways for COVID-19 testing to be free for stranded Boholanos

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Capitol to look for ways for COVID-19 testing to be free for stranded Boholanos

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FILE PHOTO: A nurse gets a swab from a health worker in a booth set up in a hospital parking lot as the Philippines ramps up testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manila, Philippines, April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

The Capitol has assured that stranded Boholanos who wish to be brought back home will not pay for the polymerase chain reaction or PCR test required by authorities for them to be approved for entry into the province amid a strict travel restriction.

Dr. Yul Lopez, the Capitol’s spokesperson on coronavirus disease (COVID) 19-related issues, said that they will coordinate with the national government to set an arrangement in which PCR tests will be available to stranded Boholanos for free.

“Definitely, dili mi mo-demand na kamo ang moa ng mo gasto ani kay nakasabot man mi sa kalisod sa sitwasyon diha,” Lopez said over station dyRD’s “Inyong Alagad” program.

Governor Arthur Yap on Wednesday announced that a negative result from a PCR test prior to the arrival of returning Boholanos in the province was one of four requirements needed for them to gain entry into the province.

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This drew flak from some of the stranded Boholanos considering that COVID-19 testing in the country is not easily available as it prioritizes those with symptoms of the disease and frontliners.

Voluntary PCR test also reportedly costs up to P8,000.

Other requirements included a proof of having undergone a 14-day quarantine from the health office of the municipality or city of origin, medical certification from a government health unit indicating that they do not exhibit symptoms of the disease, and a written guarantee that they will agree to undergo another two-week quarantine in the province and multiple testing.

According to Lopez, they will discuss the issue on the mandatory PCR test today and on Friday to come up with measures to make it easily available for the returning Boholanos. 

Lopez also noted that they may not require returning Boholanos to undergo a facility quarantine in their places of origin considering that most people across the country particularly in COVID-19-stricken localities have already been staying indoors.

“Ang atong provincial government mohimo sa representation on your behalf, sa inyong provincial government, city health officer or municipal na dili na e-require g’yud na strikto ang facility quarantine,” he said.

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The health official however noted that a negative result from a PCR test will remain as a top requirement to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the province which has so far only one recorded active case of the disease.

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“Naghun-huna pud ta sa safety sa atong probinsya…I’m sure kami say awayon sa mga Bol-anon diri kung laktod nalang g’yud na wala tay pamaagi nga pag paniguro sa health and safety,” he said.

Boholanos stranded across the country have been forming groups and airing their plight through various means including social media. Many of them are displaced workers who have lost their sources of income and are hoping to seek refuge in their home province.

Bohol has so far accepted the entry of overseas Filipino workers as mandated by the national government but those who are non-OFWs have not been allowed to enter the province.  

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Public apprehension on allowing entry to both OFWs and non-OFWs recently strengthened however after one of the 116 balikbayans in Bohol who arrived in the province in the previous weeks tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.   

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