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OWWA to OFWs in quarantine facilities: Wait for COVID-19 test results which are released in batches

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on Tuesday advised repatriated overseas Filipino workers waiting to get out of quarantine facilities in Metro Manila to stretch their patience and wait for their COVID-19 test results to be released.

“Sa dami kasi—25,000—we really just have to wait until the results come out,” OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in an interview on GMA's Unang Hirit.

He explained that the COVID-19 test results of repatriated OFWs were being released in different batches.

"Ang isang napansin namin sa resultang lumalabas ay hindi necessarily kumpleto  sa isang hotel,” Cacdac said.

“Halimbawa, Hotel A—lumabas ang (resulta ng) isang grupo mula sa Hotel A ngayong araw. ‘Yung mga susunod, pangalawa na resulta, hindi necessarily kadugtong ng Hotel A,” he added, explaining the second batch of test results may be of OFWs staying in other hotels used as quarantine facilities.

Cacdac reiterated that repatriated OFWs cannot leave the hotels, which are designated as isolation facilities, until their test results arrive.

This is part of the protocol set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases that was imposed on April 27 when some repatriated OFWs already finished or were about to complete their mandatory 14-day quarantine, Cacdac earlier explained.

This particular testing for the said OFWs started on May 5. The results from the first day of testing were released on May 14. Cacdac pointed out that the approval for these OFWs to exit quarantine facilities really depends on the pace of the release of the test results.

Some OFWs who have been in quarantine for more than 14 days—others for more than a month—were already complaining.

Jocelyn Laudit, a repatriated OFW from Singapore, said she has been staying in the quarantine facility for a month. According to her, the money that she earned for her family was already exhausted buying her needs while in quarantine.

Laudit lamented that no one from the government is checking on their condition in the quarantine facility.

“Naghihintay po kami ng update. Kapag tumatawag po kami ng OWWA, sinasabi nila sa Coast Guard. Kapag sinabi ng Coast Guard, sa OWWA. Ang sabi ng OWWA, sa DOH (Department of Health),” she said.

“Kung saan-saan po kami pinapasa e,” she said.

Cacdac admitted that DOH protocols discourage OWWA personnel from personally checking on the repatriated OFWs in the quarantine facilities given the threat of virus transmission.

“Sa totoo lang, hindi rin advisable ng DOH na kami ay nagpupunta punta diyan at pinupulong namin kayo. Pupuntahan namin kayo sa lobby at magkikita-kita tayo—hindi rin kasi advisable ‘yung ganu'ng paraan,” he said.

Cacdac however gave the assurance that OWWA is doing the rounds of quarantine facilities and monitoring the OFWs, although their personnel are not meeting OFWs face-to-face.

He advised Laudit and other OFWs to monitor his live updates on OWWA’s Facebook page to see for themselves the visits made by the government agency to quarantine facilities. —Joviland Rita/KG, GMA News