By Shirley Matias Pizarro
BALANGA, Bataan —Two overseas Filipino workers (OFW), who were able to secure clearance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to return home, tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) upon arrival in this province.
The OFWs were reported to have first tested negative in the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test conducted by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) as required by the OWWA under the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Sub-Task Group on Repatriation Unified Teams.
However, upon their arrival here, they tested positive for the coronavirus as bared by health protocols required by Bagac.
“There may be a need to review the existing protocols being undertaken in the NCR in the handling of the repatriation of our OFWs. What if we didn’t take extra precaution by testing them upon arrival here in Bagac? This kind of lapse could undermine the painstaking efforts we have already taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our town,” said Bagac Mayor Ramil Del Rosario.
He said both OFWs were already at the Bataan General Hospital and Medical Hospital (BGHMC) where they are under isolation.
“We have immediately conducted a thorough contact-tracing and subjected their family members for testing and quarantine to make sure that the virus will not spread further,” Del Rosario added.
As such, Del Rosario appealed to health officials handling OFWs before they are repatriated to their hometowns to make sure that they are negative of COVID-19.
“Kawawa naman po kami kasi halos lahat ng resources namin nagamit na para lang huwag makaroon ng COVID cases dito. Kahit nga po katakut-takot na batikos ang tinanggap namin dahil ss sobrang higpit namin, okay lang basta hindi kami mapasok ng COVID. We can’t afford to have COVID here because we don’t want to endanger the lives of our constituents,” he said.
Pilar Mayor Charlie Pizarro shared Del Rosario’s sentiments as he said: “From now on, we will make sure that all returning residents will undergo another 14-day quarantine in the isolation facility in our town regardless of the certification that they hold. We hope that all towns in Bataan will also use the same protocol for the protection of our kababayans.”
According to Del Rosario, the first OFW was a 34-year-old male from Barangay Pag-asa, who arrived in the country last May 29 and was immediately RT-PCR testing by the PRC while under the custody of the Bureau of Quarantine. The result came back negative.
On June 8, he was allowed to go back to Bagac, where, as a protocol, he was also subjected to another RT-PCR test on June 9. upon which, as a protocol, he was subjected to another RT-PCR test last June 9.
The following day, the patient’s results came back from the 1Bataan-BGHMC PCR Laboratory showing he was positive for COVID-19.
The second OFW, according to Del Rosario, was a 53-year-old male from Barangay Parang, who arrived in the country last June 6.
Like the first OFW, he also tested negative from the RT-PCR testing by the PRC while in the custody of the Bureau of Quarantine. He was given a certification and allowed to go home to Bagac on June 12.
Del Rosario said the second OFW also tested positive for COVID-19 after undergoing another RT-PCR test, the results of which was released last Sunday night, June 14.