Swab test results of returning overseas Filipinos for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may take longer than the usual 24 hours or less as pre-processing of samples returned to manual, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Friday, Oct. 16.
“The PCG would like to inform returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) that, as of Oct. 15, the service has returned to manual pre-processing of swab samples collected at the one-stop shops at NAIA Terminals 1, 2, and 3,” the Coast Guard said.
With this, real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results may be received within a day or two via email. It used to be released in less than 24 hours with the automated pre-processing system.
According to Commodore Armand Balilo, Coast Guard spokesman, this is due to the “stoppage [sic] of Red Cross in processing the RT-PCR specimen.”
The Coast Guard said, as of 1 p.m. on Oct. 16, a total of 116 Coast Guard frontline personnel have manually encoded 30 percent of 2,833 swab samples collected on Oct. 15 to be processed before transport to designated government laboratories that will conduct RT-PCR analyses.
“Since the PCG is only given 100 slots per day per government laboratory, transport personnel of the PCG are tasked to visit numerous government laboratories, instead of just one, for the processing of all swab samples collected yesterday,” Admiral George Ursabia Jr., Coast commandant, said.
The Coast Guard, through its Command Center, is tasked to handle negative RT-PCR test results, while the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) will coordinate to all returning Filipinos who will be declared positive for COVID-19.
“To ensure that the manual pre-processing of swab samples is implemented in the fastest way possible, PCG frontline personnel who are securing quarantine hotels are now working with Coast Guard units assigned at the airport,” Ursabia said.
Ursabia has also directed the PCG Task Force Bayanihan ROF to perform necessary measures to lessen inconvenience to repatriates caused by the return to manual pre-processing of swab samples. If needed, he said he will deploy more personnel at the NAIA to further address this issue.
The commandant also appealed for patience and understanding to returning Filipinos who have to be isolated longer in their designated quarantine facilities.