17 gov’t labs take over PRC’s Covid test for returning OFWs

National and local government laboratories took over the processing of RT-PCR test of arriving seafarers since October 15 after the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) stopped accepting specimens of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Photo by: JhayAy Vispo

The PRC announced last week its decision not to process Covid test for returning OFWs after the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth failed to pay its mounting debt, totaling to over P900 million, to PRC.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator (OWWA) Hans Leo Cacdac explained that the specimens gathered by the Philippine Coast Guard are now being sent to 17 national and local government molecular laboratories for processing.

“Malaking pasasalamat po natin sa mga national and local government laboratories, nag volunteer po silang tangapin ang swab test na ginagawa ng Coast Guard.

“Nagsimula na po silang maglabas ng result ng mga test na ginawa (among returning OFWs) noong October 15 onwards,” Administrator Cacdac said during interview over Teleradyo last night.

He however clarified that PhilHealth would still foot the bill on OFWs’ RT-PCR test.  “In the meantime, it’s the government laboratories, but it would still be PhilHealth, sila po talaga ang may responsibility (for paying the cost of the test).”

Atty. Cacdac also stressed that OFWs arriving at Ninoy Aquino International Airport since October 15, “should log on sa quarantinecertificate.com

“Ito ang Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) site for issuance of negative test result certificate from the Bureau. They should enroll themselves in this site so once dumating yung result from government labs, BoQ would issue the results and notifies the OFW enrolled in the system.”

He said the government laboratories have committed to maintain the normal waiting time for the result, which is 3-5 days after the swab test.

While waiting, they will be staying in hotels, which is handled by OWWA, until the release of their test results, Adminstrator Cacdac said.  

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