Delay in release of returning OFWs' virus test results already resolved: OWWA

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2022 01:51 PM | Updated as of Jan 16 2022 02:00 PM

Passengers arrive at the NAIA Terminal 1 on November 29, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File
Passengers arrive at the NAIA Terminal 1 on November 29, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) also faced delays in the release of their COVID-19 test results, but the problem had already been resolved, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said Sunday.

"Bumagal iyong pag-process ng ating mga swab test result," OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(The processing of our swab test results slowed down.)

Returning OFWs staying in hotel-facilities in Metro Manila or nearby provinces usually received their results after 24 to 48 hours.

"Pero noong nagkaproblema tayo, pero tapos na 'yong 'no, umabot ng mga 2 to 3 days. Mayroon pa nga cases na 4 days na paghihintay," Cacdac said.

(When we had a problem - but the problem is already over - the waiting time for the test results lasted for about 2 to 3 days. In some cases, they waited for 4 days.)

Cacdac said the OWWA was able to resolve the issue by tapping COVID-19 laboratories in Cebu.

The government's one-stop shop catering to returning OFWs is also looking at partnering with private labs to hasten the processing of RT-PCR tests, he added.

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The Philippines recently saw delays in the release of COVID-19 test results due to the huge demand for testing, as the country dealt with a resurgence in virus infections, suspected to be driven by the omicron variant. 

Laboratories are also reportedly understaffed as their personnel have also been sickened by the virus.

Cacdac said there are around 8,500 OFWs who are currently staying in 195 hotel-facilities in Metro Manila and Calabarzon, a situation that the official described as "manageable."

"Hindi iyan iyong ating red alert volume katulad noong delta at early stage ng omicron [surge]," he said.

Hotels serving as quarantine facilities can cater up to 17,000 returning OFWs, based on previous surges, according to Cacdac.

Under the 2022 national budget, P11.4 billion was allotted for hotel, transport and food services of returning OFWs, Cacdac said.

He added that the government continues to offer cash assistance to displaced returning Filipino workers.