PhilHealth, Red Cross debt row briefly affected PH testing capacity: DOH

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 07 2020 02:24 PM | Updated as of Nov 07 2020 02:52 PM

PhilHealth, Red Cross debt row briefly affected PH testing capacity: DOH 1
Arriving OFWs at the NAIA Terminal 1 are assisted by Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Red Cross personnel for COVID-19 swab tests. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA— The country's testing capacity for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases was briefly affected when the Philippine Red Cross suspended testing for repatriated overseas Filipino workers because of government debt, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

In a public press briefing, the official said PRC's testing contributes 20 percent to the country's capacity.

"'Pag tiningnan natin ang datos, ang PRC has contributed almost 20 percent of the testing capacity in the country dahil marami silang laboratoryo so noong tumigil ang pagproseso ng specimen from the Philippine Red Cross on our OFWs, nagkaroon ito ng epekto sa ating kapasidad na makapag-test," Vergeire said.

(When we look at the data, PRC has contributed almost 20 percent of the testing capacity in the country because they have a lot of laboratories. So when they stopped processing specimen of OFWs, this affected our testing capacity.)

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A negative COVID-19 test result is required for repatriated Filipino migrant workers to be allowed to return to their hometowns after arrival in Manila.

In mid-October, the Philippine Red Cross suspended testing repatriated Filipinos for COVID-19 after the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) incurred debt of roughly P1 billion for coronavirus tests.

PhilHealth had made partial payment of P500 million on October 27, and another P100 million Thursday. Red Cross has since resumed taking in specimen.

DOH was able to bring back the normal testing capacity when it re-zoned some 22,000 specimen to different hospitals, Vergeire said.

"Pagkatapos ng ilang araw nung nagkaroon tayo ng rezoning kung saan dinala natin sa mga ospital ang specimen ng almost 22,000 OFWs naibalik natin sa dating kapasidad ng ating laboratoryo," Vergeire said.
 
(After a few days, when we had rezoning, where we brought some 22,000 specimen of OFWs to different hospitals, we were able to return to our normal testing capacity levels.)