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OFW being tested for covid-19 by PH Red Cross in its Mandaluyong lab / Photo Courtesy of GMA / @donamagsino / Twitter

Red Cross to test 20,000 returning OFWs 

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The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said it will test around 20,000 returning overseas Filipino workers amid the coronavirus disease 2019 global pandemic.

To kick off the initiative, the swab samples of 120 Filipino seafarers were collected on Thursday night at PRC's molecular laboratory in Mandaluyong. They have just returned to the country on April 29.

"We want to make sure that our OFWs are safe before they go home to their families. Last week, we inaugurated our molecular laboratory and we are planning to put up 20 more throughout the country so that we could test more," PRC chairman and Senator Richard Gordon said in a statement.

Returning OFWs who would arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminals I and II, and at Eva Macapagal ferry terminal in Manila will also be tested by the PRC in coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard.

Swab samples for the PCR-based tests will immediately be taken at the terminals by nurses and medical technologists of the armed forces, under the supervision of the PRC staff.

"Umaabot ng isang libo mahigit ang dumarating na OFWs everyday. We want to test them and we want to work with Chairman Gordon para mabilis iyong resulta kase kapag na-test natin sila at nalaman natin na negative, puwede na natin silang ipa-home quarantine," Bases Conversion and Development Authority president Vince Dizon said.

The Philippines has at least 19 laboratories that are accredited for COVID-19 testing. Over 93,000 individuals already took the test, according to the Department of Health.

As of April 30, the number of confirmed cases in the country has reached 8,488, with 568 deaths and 1,043 recoveries.

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