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Swab test results no longer mandatory before boarding plane

AIRLINE passengers are no longer required to show their RT-PCR results before boarding their flight. But they could not exit Franciso Bangoy International Airport without first undergoing a swab test courtesy of the city government. 

Mayor Sara Duterte said in yesterday’s Davao City Disaster Radio, said passengers now have two options: They can secure the swab test results 24 hours to 72 hours before their date of departure or undergo an RT-PCR procedure at the Davao airport. 

“You can have testing at the place of origin, which is more convenient for you because you can present it and exit and go home to your LGU,” she said. “Or you can get tested when you arrive.“ 

The new policy is a slight tweak from the previous guideline of presenting the RT-PCR test results before boarding the airplane.

But she said that those who do not have their own RT-PCR run the risk of staying at the holding facility at the airport from a minimum of seven hours up to 24 hours. The length of stay will depend on the number of passengers to be tested.

“This is for free in our Davao International Airport,” she said. “We do not distinguish between Davao City residents or non-Davao residents. It is also our way of helping the other LGUs, so we will test everybody.”

An RT-PCR test will cost around P6,500 from a private laboratory. The passengers can then submit the negative RT-PCR results when they go home to their respective hometowns. 

The city government is shouldering all the cost of the RT-PCR test from the P6 million downloaded from the Bayanihan as One Act. Once the money is exhausted, the local government will then use the donated test kits. 

 “Once we consume the donated test kits, that is the time when we start using the funding from the city government,” Duterte said.

Duterte said they piloted the new system on the morning flight yesterday, and they tested 177 passengers. She had no information on how many failed the swab test. But a sweeper flight yielded seven passengers who tested positive for the virus. 

But the good thing is the health officials no longer have to conduct contact tracing in the communities because they were already intercepted at the airport. 

But the mayor conceded the possibility of the holding facilities getting swamped with inbound passengers. For now, however, they can still accommodate the number of arrivals, including the sweeper and mercy flights. 

“The only problem with this setup is we could not proceed to the full capacity of commercial flights,” she said. “We need to speed up the turnover before we can resume the commercial flights.”

She said the holding facility of the city also observes the standard health protocols and physical distancing to reduce the risk of transmission. Once the passenger arrives, their details would then be recorded. Once they test positive for COVID-19, the contact tracing can immediately proceed. The contact tracing will focus on passengers near the positive individual based on their airline seat assignment.

By August, the city government plans on opening up another facility, which could help ease the possible congestion. 


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