Cebu City mulls covering cost of antigen test for ROFs, returning OFWs to protect hotel workers
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City plans to cover the cost of hotel quarantine testing for Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) upon their arrival at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
Acting Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said in a phone conference on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, that the city government is mulling to provide assistance to the ROFs and OFWs who will be quarantined in hotels pending results of their tests.
The city may cover the cost for the antigen testing that will be done to the ROFs and OFWs upon arriving in the hotel for quarantine as a precautionary measure and protection for the workers of the hotels.
It is not yet clear what protocols the MCIA will follow because of the ongoing clash between the provincial government’s swab-upon-arrival for ROFs and the national Interagency Task Force (IATF) policy that require ROFs to be swabbed after seven days of quarantine.
The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) already said they will swab all ROFs and OFWs on the seventh day from arrival, while the provincial government may conduct its own testing upon arrival.
As for the quarantine of the ROFs and OFWs, the DOH-7 said it will let the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) decide on this.
Still, Rama said there is no more need to fight Malacañang over the issue, especially since the President has been clear on his stand that Cebu must follow the national IATF.
“DOH-7 said in our meeting that they have a good solution to address the concerns of the hotels. They said we can do an antigen test but it will be covered maybe by the LGU,” said Rama.
Since the city has no say on the MCIA protocols, the city will focus on what it can control, particularly, its residents and the quarantine hotels found within its jurisdiction.
The hotels have complained to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that without testing, the ROFs and OFWs upon arriving may place their workers at risk, especially those who will be serving them.
Rama said the DOH-7 has proposed an antigen test and they are now mulling if the city can do so without necessarily deviating from the national IATF testing policy for ROFs.
Councilor Joel Garganera, the deputy chief implementor of the EOC, said that the policy is still being studied and there is no final decision yet.
“Aside from complying with the 7th-day swab requirement imposed by the national government, we have discussed the possibility of having these ROFs and ROFWs antigen swabbed within the hotel premises upon arrival for the interest of the hotel owners to protect their property as well as the health of their employees.”
“However, this is still not final considering that we need to look at the capacity of the hotel to accommodate all arrivals since as reported by the DOT, more or less 2,800 rooms allocated as quarantine hotel facility are all located within Cebu City,” said Garganera.
Rama said he has asked for a breakdown on the cost to find out if the city can afford to cover the cost or at least half of it.
He said that the city government will try to relieve the burden from the ROFs and OFWs as much as it can.
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