PCG improvises to expedite testing for returning Filipinos

Published October 22, 2020, 4:37 PM

by Betheena Kae Unite

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has resorted to setting up an improvised automated encoding system at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in an effort to expedite the processing of swab samples of returning overseas Filipinos.


Aside from the increased number of deployed frontline personnel, the Coast Guard said they have activated an IT team that currently improvises an automated encoding system for the gathering of information from returning nationals.

As of Thursday, a total of 2,394 manually-encoded specimens collected at the one-stop shops on October 21 were brought to the nine of the 12 partner laboratories.

“The PCG has also assigned one focal person per partner laboratory that tests swab samples of returning overseas Filipinos,” the Coast Guard said.

“This is intended to ease coordination and ensure that results will be sent to the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) in one to two days after delivery,” the agency added.

The BOQ will then inform returning nationals regarding their swab test results through e-mail addresses provided upon registration at quarantinecertificate.com.

The laboratories, on the other hand, will send separate lists of returning Filipios who yielded positive and negative results to the BOQ to facilitate the issuance of quarantine clearances to nationals who tested negative for COVID-19, as well as the isolation of those who need medical assistance to recover from the contagious virus.

The 12 laboratories identified to handle specimens from returning Filipinos were Ospital ng Imus, Jose B Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital, Tala Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, San Lazaro Hospital, Philippine Genome Center, UP-National Institutes of Health, PNP Crime Lab, Las Pinas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center, Sta. Ana Hospital, and Philippine General Hospital.

These hospitals and laboratories committed to process a combined 4,35o test samples daily.

After the successful reorganization to incorporate 12 partner laboratories in the existing system of One-Stop Shops, the Coast Guard assured that “inter-agency mechanisms are being fortified to expedite the process of receiving, testing, isolating, and reintegrating ROFs safely to their respective local government units and families.” 

Pre-processing of swab samples from returning overseas Filipinos went back to manual after the Philippine Red Cross halted its operations last week. It resulted in a longer turnaround of results from 24 hours to five days.

With this, thousands of returning nationals were stranded in different quarantine facilities due to the testing delay.