CEBU CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas on Monday assured there will be enough testing kits for the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) arriving in Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH-7 chief pathologist and Covid-19 spokesperson, issued this statement after announcing that the current provincial government policy on testing of OFWs and ROFs upon arrival will prevail, in the meantime.
“Actually, supplies are one of our challenges for the continuance of our testing protocols at the MCIA,” said Loreche, as she guaranteed the DOH-7’s proactive actions in requesting additional supplies from the national and local government and procurement through the regional office.
After a meeting with Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, health authorities and stakeholders agreed to retain the swab-upon-arrival policy under Executive Order No. 17 which has been turned into a provincial ordinance.
The EO provides that OFWs and ROFs will be subject to a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test twice.
The first test will be at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) upon their arrival and if the result is negative, the individual will be sent to his or her local government unit and continue quarantine at home.
On the seventh day, an ROF or OFW will again undergo another swab test.
Loreche also assured to intensify their testing capability at the DOH-7’s Cebu TB Reference Laboratory Molecular Facility for COVID-19 Testing (CTRL- MFCT) to prevent being swarmed with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) samples now that OFWs and ROFs will be swabbed the moment they arrive at the airport.
Apart from samples taken from the OFWs and ROFs, the regional molecular laboratory located in this city has been conducting RT-PCR testing from samples submitted from the local government units in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Dumaguete.
The testing policy at the MCIA has been affirmed after eight Cebuano lawmakers from the House of Representatives signed a manifesto supporting Garcia’s executive order on swab test upon arrival of the OFWs and ROFs, in contrast to Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) policy which requires them to undergo swab after the mandatory isolation at a hotel facility.
Those who signed the manifesto were Representatives Eduardo Gullas (1st District), Wilfredo Caminero (2nd District), Pablo John Garcia (3rd District), Janice Salimbangon (4th District), Vincent Frasco (5th District), Emmarie Ouano-Dizon (6th District), Peter John Calderon (7th Disrict), and Sonny Lagon of the Ako Bisaya Party-list.
“We are cognizant of our constituent OFWs’ and ROFs’ urgent need to immediately return home to their families to minimize the financial and emotional burden long periods of quarantine entails,” the manifesto reads.
It added: “A significant proportion of our constituent OFWs and ROFs come back to Cebu due to deaths in the family and other family emergencies where it is critical for them to immediately return home. This, notwithstanding the limitation of time their work abroad permits them to stay in Cebu.”
Cebu province has been under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) for the past 10 months.
In a meeting at the Malacañang on Monday last week, President Rodrigo Duterte asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to study Cebu’s Covid-19 protocols. (PNA)