Mayor Sara Z. Duterte said Wednesday the requirement for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) swab test results for Davao-bound air travelers are no longer mandatory.
Instead, Mayor Sara said RT-PCR testing results will be done upon exit at the Davao International Airport (DIA).
Earlier, Davao-bound passengers were advised to submit a negative RT-PCR taken 24-72 hours before their departure date upon check-in at any airport of origin.
The city government required a negative RT-PCR after the data from the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) showed that the highest confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in this city consisted of travelers from Manila.
“After so much discussion during the meeting with the National Task Force (NTF) and Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) we agreed to make the RT-PCR requirement mandatory upon exit at DIA. It will no longer be mandatory for check-in, it is permissive,” Duterte explained in a radio interview.
She added that the testing done in the city is free of charge.
However, Mayor Sara clarified that the passengers can still get their RT-PCR negative results within 24-72 hours of their departure date.
“If they want hassle-free travel they can secure it and they can go out at the airport and do their quarantine at home. For those who don’t have the RT-PCR, we test them without exception. They should be prepared to wait at least 24 hours for their results to be released,” she explained.
Meanwhile, a holding area for arriving passengers at DIA has been established by the city government here.
Angel Sumagaysay, head of the Public Security and Safety Command Center (PCC), said the holding area is for arriving passengers whose negative RT-PCR test result has lapsed the 72-hour requirement or failed to get tested at all.
“We prepared this for those passengers arriving in Davao City without negative Covid-19 test. They will undergo RT-PCR testing and they will stay at the holding area while waiting for their results,” Sumagaysay said.
Sumagaysay said the holding area can cater to up to 50 people and is equipped with folding beds and mattresses for passengers waiting for their test results. The airport holding area is only one of five holding areas arranged by the city government for arriving passengers.
Dr. Josephine Villafuerte, City Health Officer (CHO) chief, said arriving passengers for RT-PCR swabbing will need to temporarily stay in the isolation area in order not to expose their families if they turn out positive.
Duterte assured that the city government will still impose strict health protocols at the holding facility such as safe physical distancing to reduce the chances of Covid-19 transmission. (PNA)