Over 14,000 OFWs tested for COVID-19

MORE than 14,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been tested for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) while in isolation, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported Monday. In a statement, PCG said 14,418 land- and sea-based OFWs underwent reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction technique test for COVID-19 as of May 10. On Monday, 1,674 were tested by the Sub-Task Group for the Repatriation of OFWs — 1,118 in quarantine facilities in Metro Manila and nearby provinces and 556 at Palacio de Manila. All returning OFWs are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine. “Rest assured that once necessary clearances are issued, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will coordinate their transport so they may finally go home to their families,” it said. Among the quarantine facilities being used for OFWs are the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal in Pier 15 and two 2GO vessels that have been temporarily reconfigured. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

PEZA asks gov’t to cover COVID-19 testing of ecozone employees

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has requested government to cover the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing of ecozone employees as a form of assistance to locators that continue to operate during the lockdown. PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza, in a phone interview on Monday, said she had written the Department of Finance requesting for free testing for employees. “(Industry workers) are the backbone of the economy… it’s important that the people working (be tested) so they can be healthy. This is also help for the investors who are badly hit. Instead of them spending for the testing, this is our assistance for them,” she said in English and Filipino. In the meantime, PEZA is assessing testing service providers as it will be requiring all registered companies to have their employees undergo either the rapid test, which checks the presence of antibodies, or the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which determines the presence of the virus. She said implementing the tests, starting with the current skeleton force then the work-from-home employees, will pave the way for allowing 100% operations. Ms. Plaza is also discussing with private ecozones the possibility of setting up dormitories for workers that can be used during crises. — Jenina P. Ibañez