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FREE SWAB TESTS FOR OFWS, ROFS IN CEBU — GARCIA

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) going home to any of the cities and towns in Cebu province will now have to undergo reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR) testing upon arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia announced the testing will be free of charge.

“The new policy will no longer require OFWs and ROFs to stay in quarantine hotel facilities.”

Garcia said the new policy will no longer require OFWs and ROFs to stay in “quarantine hotel” facilities for five days after arrival before they are swabbed.

Before this, OFWs and returning non-OFWs were swabbed only on the fifth day after their arrival, as part of additional safety measures aimed to contain the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) variants.

However, the lady governor said swab testing on the fifth day after their arrival has put a heavy burden on the already cash-strapped returning Cebuanos as well as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) which usually shoulders the P1,400 per day hotel room accommodation of OFWs.

She issued an executive order recently allowing “unimpeded entry” of returning Cebuanos but requiring them to follow certain conditions such as filing of passenger registration form downloadable via the MCIA website, pre-booked accommodation at hotels accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the COVID-19 test upon arrival.

“Since the use of the accredited hotel is for transient stay until a negative RT-PCR test result is released as opposed to quarantine that puts in isolation a person for a fixed number of days to prevent the spread of disease, accredited hotels accepting OFWs and returning non-OFWs waiting for their RT-PCR test results shall be allowed to accept other bookings from the general public subject to health and safety protocols as prescribed by the DOH,” the executive order read.

“The OFW or ROF will be allowed to go to his or her residence within Cebu province upon release of a negative swab test result.”

Garcia said the OFW or ROF will be allowed to go to his or her residence within Cebu province upon release of a negative swab test result.

If the test result turns out positive, the person is obliged to undergo the Department of Health’s (DOH) treatment protocols for COVID-19.

“This policy has been put in place to help the ailing hotel industry in Cebu,” Garcia said.

There are at least 30 hotel establishments accredited by DOT as isolation facilities in Cebu. They have 2,125 combined hotel rooms. 

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