MCIAA and GMCAC announced that Mactan Cebu Airport will be the first airport in the country to be equipped with a dedicated COVID-19 testing laboratory with state-of-the-art facilities that can process about 900 swab samples per day rising to 2,000 per day for the benefit of arriving OFWs, seafarers, and locally stranded individuals. Eventually the process will be extended to those outbound international passengers requiring a COVID-19 test certificate for entry to other countries.

Testing booths are set up in T2 Arrival Reclaim with swab sampling taking a maximum of 5 minutes, after which OFW’s and Seafarers will be transferred to designated quarantine facilities by DOH and LGU Officials. Test results will be available on-line to DOH after 24-hours.

“This initiative will augment the government’s testing capacity and fast track the processing of arriving OFWs and seafarers and decongest Manila. At the same time, it will help alleviate the plight of OFWs and Seafarers who desperately want to return to the Visayas and Mindanao but are stranded in quarantine centers in Luzon while waiting for their COVID-19 test results,” said MCIAA General Manager Steve Dicdican.

Once swab samples are taken, OFWs and seafarers will be billeted in hotels designated as quarantine facilities by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Tourism while waiting for their test results.

“We believe this measure will give an important capacity boost to DOH and at the same time help kick-start our local economy through the jobs that will be necessary to provide support for all these arriving OFW’s and Seafarers in sectors such as hotels, transportation, and catering in the immediate term, but most importantly pave the way for international arrivals to resume as the confidence to travel to Cebu from the tourists and foreigners starts to build. As part of Cebu’s tourism ecosystem we need to ensure we play our part in helping the tourism sector recover. Many jobs for Cebuanos are highly dependent on the safe but eventual rebound of the tourism sector,” said Harrison. Currently, the laboratory operator Prime Care is working on getting the certification and accreditation from the DOH and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).