No PRC tests: 4,000 OFWs stranded

Mayen Jaymalin, Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) – October 21, 2020 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — At least 4,000 returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are stranded in Metro Manila hotels after the PRC stopped conducting swab tests for OFWs, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III reported yesterday.

Bello said the OFWs were unable to go back to the provinces because of delays in getting the results of their COVID-19 tests.

“In a manner of speaking, they are now stranded and we need to look for quarantine hotels for them,” Bello said.

Prior to the PRC-PhilHealth issue, Bello said the Department of Labor and Employment and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration managed to bring home to the provinces between 1,000 and 3,000 OFWs daily.

“Now, we are talking a maximum of 300 per day. So you could just imagine how many OFWs are stranded in hotels,” he said.

Bello said OFWs had to stay longer in hotels, thus costing the government a large sum.

He said around 100,000 more OFWs are expected to return to the country until yearend.

Pre-paid swab tests

Amid the disagreement with PhilHealth over unpaid testing fees, the PRC is offering pre-paid swab tests for Filipinos returning from abroad.

PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon advised OFWs to pre-book their swab test directly with the PRC.

“Testing for returning OFWs cost P3,581.75 per test, including P71.75 payment for online transaction fee and P10 convenience fee,” the PRC posted on Twitter.

The Philippine Coast Guard will swab the returning OFWs and will pick up the specimen for testing.

According to the PRC, swab test results will be released within 24 to 36 hours.

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