MIAA limits NAIA arrivals anew after PRC stops COVID-19 swab testing

Marje Pelayo   •   October 22, 2020   •   416

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has once again cut down the number of arrivals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as a consequence of the Philippine Red Cross’ decision to stop its swab testing service to returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Thousands of repatriated OFWs remain in quarantine facilities in Metro Manila, desperately waiting for the results of their swab tests.

One of them is Harlene Gariando who used to work as a household worker in Singapore but after a conflict with her employer, she decided to return home on October 18.

It has been four days since she arrived but until today, she is not certain as to when she will be able to get her swab test result.

Madali na po sana ang resulta para kami pong mga naghihintay dito ay makauwi na rin sa aming mga mahal sa buhay [We hope the result would come out soon so we could go home to our families],” she said.

Sana malaman po kaagad ng maaga kasi para hindi rin po nagaalala yung mga mahal namin sa buhay rin po [The results should be made available soon so our families will not worry],” she added.

MIAA General Manager Eddie Monreal said they have to minimize the number of arrivals once again to make sure that the government’s One-Stop-Shop will be able to accommodate all returning OFWs.

“Ang challenge po ay nasa One Stop Shop being manned by Coast Guard and pagdating nung mga kababayan natin limitado po ang kapasidad ngayon sa pagte-test [The challenge now is with the One-Stop-Shop being manned by the Coast Guard because the swab testing at present is limited as compared to the arriving OFWs],” Monreal said.

“As far as the airport is concern, kami po sa paliparan wala po kaming nakikitang problema except for those reduction po na maapektuhan ang pagparating ng ating mga kababayan [As far as the airport is concerned, we don’t have any problem except for the arriving OFWs who will be affected by the reduction of flights],” he added.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), meanwhile, is trying to replicate the process of the PRC when it comes to swab testing, one is to allow online registration prior to the OFWs return flight.

Kasi iyong E-CIF di ba bago pa pumunta dito sa Pilipinas, three days before nirerequire na natin noon in coordination with the Red Cross na magpirma na nung CIF [The process with E-CIF, three days before they arrive in the Philippines they are required to sign a CIF with Red Cross],” explained Commodore Armand Balilo, PCG’s Spokesperson.

Para pagdating dito dere-derecho ang pila. Pupunta lang sa counter ng Coast Guard tapos isa-swab [So when they arrive, they just fall in line. They just go straight to the Coast Guard’s counter and there they will be swabbed],” he added.

At present, the PCG has partnered with 12 government hospitals to where the specimens of OFW are forwarded.

The agency also employed more IT personnel to speed up the encoding of data. 

PCG explained that OFWs may request to speed up the processing of their swab tests. They may either pay P3,5000 to the PRC or they may prefer to have their swab test taken in private hospitals but they have to pay as much as P10,000 for it.

The PCG is hoping that the PRC will resume its service the soonest especially with the expected surge of returning OFWs by the end of the year. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

PRC opens drive-thru saliva testing sites in two Metro Manila malls

Marje Pelayo   •   February 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has rolled out drive-thru saliva testing sites at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City and at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

Those who wish to get tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may proceed to the said malls provided they have pre-registered or booked online for the test on book.redcross1158.com.

The drive-thru saliva testing, which opens from 9:00AM to 5:00PM is priced at P2,500 — much cheaper than a swab test which costs P3,800.

PRC Chairman Senator Richard Gordon said, the price may be further lowered depending on the demand.

“Kung marami ang magpapa-saliva test gusto ko ibaba pa hanggang P1,000 kung kakayanin,para lingo-linggo magpapa-test ang tao,” he said.

“What is the purpose? Our purpose is to get people working in the malls, driving buses, jeepney, tricycles and people who want to work in factories,” he added.

He said saliva testing is almost similar to swab testing which is considered the golden standard of the World Health Organization (WHO) for COVID-19 testing.

Prior to the saliva test, the public is advised to fast – do not eat or drink, do not smoke or gargle anything – 30 minutes before the test.

The process will take about three to four hours before the result is received.

Aside from malls, the PRC is also coordinating with agencies in the private sector who are interested in availing the saliva testing. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

PRC eyes COVID-19 saliva testing in malls

Marje Pelayo   •   February 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross will launch its drive-thru saliva COVID-19 test in malls starting February 3.

The PRC believes saliva testing is easier, more convenient and cheaper.

According to former health secretary now PRC’s molecular laboratory head Dr. Paulyn Ubial, the agency now has 3,100 samples since they started the program on January 25.

To further expand their reach, the PRC targets to put up saliva testing boots in parking areas of shopping malls.

Pwedeng mag drive thru. Ibig sabihin dadaan ang kanilang sasakyan at bibigyan sila ng sample collection kit at  doon sa loob ng sasakyan dudura o idu-drool yung kanilang laway (It can be drive-thru where they can stay inside the vehicle and will be given a sample collection kit for their spit),” Ubial said.

“Kapag nakakuha na sila ng one to two milliliters i-aabot na lang nila ang lalagyan na vial doon sa ating mga saliva collectors (Once they have filled one to two milliliters of the vial, they can just hand it over the vial to saliva collectors),” she added.

Aside from malls, the PRC is also looking to bring the project to factories, offices, schools and public transport stations for jeepney and bus drivers.

Tourist destinations such as Boracay, Siargao, El Nido in Palawan and Bohol are also future venues for the initiative.

Gusto nating ma-test ang mga tao bago sila parang pumasok sa eskwela, pumasok sa trabaho, pumasok sa mall, para nang sa gayon ay mahiwalay na natin ang positive  sa negative (We want to test the people before going to school, work and malls so that we can immediately separate the positive cases from the negative ones),” Ubial added.

For now, the PRC has the capacity of up to 20,000 saliva tests which can expand to 42,000.

According to the agency, saliva testing is cheaper by 50 percent than swab test. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Alleged missing P15-B fund has been liquidated — PhilHealth

Marje Pelayo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Atty. Dante Gierran of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) insisted on Tuesday (January 26) that there is no truth that the agency is missing billions of pesos to irregularities and corruptions.

In August 2020, resigned PhilHealth Anti-Fraud officer Atty. Thorrsson Montes Keith made headlines for divulging alleged anomalies within the agency and claimed that around P15-billion was missing in the state insurer’s fund.

According to Gierran, they are finalizing the liquidation report as to where the said fund had been used.

Sa ngayon po, 92 percent na ang fully liquidated. So kaunti na lang (So far, 92 percent (of the amount) has been liquidated. Only a small amount to go),” the PhilHealth CEO and President said.

As for the delays in the payment of the agency’s debts to the Philippine Red Cross and other healthcare providers, Gierran explained that, like any other government agency, PhilHealth’s operation is also deeply affected by the current pandemic.

Aside from being undermanned, Geirran said incomplete documents from claim applicants are also delaying their validation process.

“One of the reasons of the delay, of course, we are under the covid regime,” he explained.

Lahat tayo napipinsala, mga kilos natin (We are all affected, our operations.) We are less liberated,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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