By Hannah Torregoza
The Philippine Red Cross will put up testing centers in the country’s tourism hubs to ramp up the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Richard Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross, said these testing centers would be set up in Boracay, Bohol, Palawan and Siargao to enable them to advertise that workers and residents in their area have been tested and cleared of infection.
He said this will encourage tourists to visit these places.
According to Gordon, the PRC will put up molecular laboratories within these tourism hubs to pave the way for the reopening of the tourism industry.
The senator noted how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the country’s tourism industry and putting up the molecular labs in these places is in anticipation of the “mad scramble to recover” once travel restrictions are eased.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization, itself has warned that international tourism is set to fall by 70 percent this year, marking the sector’s biggest slump since records began in the 1950s, based on the assumption that countries around the world would gradually open their borders from August, Gordon pointed out.
“Then we can advertise to the whole world, we have tested all the employees here, we have tested everybody here so now you are welcome to come down. And jobs can be generated right away here,” Gordon said in a statement.
The senator stressed that allowing workers in these tourism hubs to undergo COVID-19 testing would help them get back to their jobs faster and eventually spruce up the economy.
“I emphasize this: the logic behind the testing is that we can separate the people who are sick from the people who are not sick so they won’t contaminate,” Gordon stressed.
“But the more important reason is – if we are able to do that, we can get our jobs back faster.
“Bagsak na ang ekonomiya natin, kailangan ma-test natin sila agad para makapagtrabaho na sila ulit, (Our economy is badly damaged, we need to test them immediately so they can resume their jobs),” he said.
The PRC head said he believes that with adequate access to reliable and fast testing and with preventive measures in place, there would be minimal chances of further spreading the disease in the said areas.
“We have to ensure victory over COVID and we also need to revive our economy,” Gordon said.
“We do not want a system where people rely on government. Without jobs, people will keep getting money from the government. That is the worst thing that we can do to our country and it’s been happening for some time. Now we’re going to get out of it,” he added.