Cheaper, real-time COVID-19 testing for Boracay tourists being pushed by Biz group

Published February 23, 2021, 11:38 AM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY—To encourage more tourists to visit Boracay Island, a prominent business group has asked the national government’s support in establishing a testing center for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Malay town, Aklan province.

Tourists and locals enjoy the white-sand beach of Boracay Island as travel restrictions have been eased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tara Yap/File/Manila Bulletin)
Tourists and locals enjoy the white-sand beach of Boracay Island as travel restrictions have been eased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tara Yap/File/Manila Bulletin)

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI-Western Visayas Chapter) has asked the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force to back plans to create a molecular laboratory run and managed by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
 
“This will ensure the timely and accurate COVID-19 testing for both tourists and other stakeholders and thus promoting a safer, healthier, and better environment that would further boost and fast track the economic recovery of the island,” said PCCI-Western Visayas Chapter in a statement.
 
The business group lamented the negative impact on Boracay’s economy with the low turnout of visitors since the country’s most popular beach destination reopened last October 2020 when travel restrictions were gradually eased,
 
Boracay only had 15,307 and 11,898 visitors last December 2020 and January 2021 respectively.
 
The low numbers are largely due to the national government’s policy that made it mandatory for Boracay tourists to submit results they are negative for COVID-19 via the standard of swab tests.
 
But instead of the swab test, PCCI-Western Visayas is proposing that the national government allow saliva test method that has been initiated by PRC and approved by the Department of Health (DOH).
 
PCCI-Western Visayas Regional Governor Ronald So and PCCI-Boracay President Wesley Van der Voort said saliva testing is cheaper by at least 50 percent than the swab test. 
 
Results can be released within four hours and not more than one-day wait period for the swab tests and will curb incidents of tourists submitting fake COVID-19 test results.
 
“Boracay remains to be the top tourism destination of the country and can effectively serve as the jumping board in regaining our momentum in terms of tourism,” it added.
 
The statement is also signed by PCCI-Antique President Vicente Lagunday, PCCI-Aklan President Ramel Buncalan, PCCI-Capiz Halaran Dale Bernas, PCCI-Metro Bacolod President Roberto Montelibano, PCCI-Guimaras President Neptune Pittman, and PCCI-Iloilo President Jobert Peñaflorida.
 
Meanwhile, the local government of Malay is also urging the national government to allow saliva testing.

 
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