Twenty-nine Filipino seafarers have tested positive for the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after having arrived in China to board their ships, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said on Wednesday (Oct. 21).
POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said that Chinese Embassy in Manila itself informed him that there are 29 Filipino seafarers who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in China.
“Nakipag-ugnayan na sa amin ang Chinese Embassy and meron po silang binigay sa akin na listahan na 29 na seafarers na nagtest positive after taking yung negative tests ng COVID (The Chinese Embassy reached out and gave a list of 29 Filipino seafarers who tested positive for COVID-19 even though they tested negative prior their arrival),” said Olalia during an interview at the Kapihan sa Manila with Marichu Villanueva.
Olalia said the 29 seafarers underwent COVID-19 tests here in the Philippines and have tested negative before being allowed deployment to China.
During his meeting with Embassy officials, the administrator said Embassy officials expressed concerns over the integrity of COVID-19 tests being conducted in the Philippines.
“Sabi ko po walang isyu doon sa integrity dahil sigurado po dahil hindi naman po pumapayag yan na ma-forged o ma-doctor or magbigay ng fabricated result yung ating mga DOH-accredited facility na nag-i-issue po ng negative COVID test (I assured them there is no issue over integrity because the testing facilities accredited by the Department of Health don’t fabricate results),” the administrator assured.
Meanwhile, Olalia said the POEA will continue to engage with Chinese counterparts to ensure that the incident will be avoided.
Olalia said he has also contacted the manning agency which deployed the 29 seafarers and required it to submit a report.
“Nagpaliwanag naman po sila na marami pong factors na involved doon sa pagiging COVID positive ng ating seafarers (It explained that there were many factors which possibly contributed for the seafarers to turn positive for COVID-19),” he said.