DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 June) – Ninety-nine Filipino seamen repatriated from Fiji arrived at Davao International Airport on Wednesday via a chartered flight of Garuda Indonesia, Davao City Tourism Office head Generose Tecson said on Thursday.
In a text message, Tecson said the fishermen will undergo a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test for COVID-19 on the seventh day of their 10-day hotel quarantine in the city before they will be sent home to their respective provinces.
The repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who worked as fishermen in Fiji, will undergo another four days of home quarantine to complete the 14-day mandatory isolation.
“They are not all from Davao. Davao is just a port of entry where they can be quarantined,” Tecson said during a virtual press briefing of AFP-PNP Press Corps Southern Mindanao held last Wednesday.
She said the chartered flight was directed to DIA since it was open to international flights.
She said the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Mactan Airport in Cebu have limitations as to the number of international flights that can land there.
“There is a limitation on the number of passengers that can be accepted by NAIA and Cebu, which is not enough as compared to the volume of passengers who want to return home. This is why, we have airlines asking if it’s possible to land in Davao where international passengers can be quarantined before they head for their local destinations,” she said.
She said a process similar to the one employed by the national government for returning OFWs entering the country through Manila and Cebu will be used for the repatriated seamen.
She said processes have been in place at the airport and hotels in receiving repatriates.
She said the city is ready as a port of entry, adding that the Department of Health, Bureau of Quarantine, and Department of Tourism have been inspecting quarantine hotels or multi-use accommodation facilities.
She said the arrival of fishermen from Fiji served as a “dry run” for local authorities on how to handle international passengers in preparation for the plan of more airlines to make the city as their port of entry.
At least 16 hotels in the city with a total of 600 rooms have already qualified as quarantine hotels, she said.
She added this would help local hotels recoup the losses suffered due to the pandemic.
“We’re gearing for that. That’s our aim because this will be an opportunity for hotels, as we know that the passengers need 10 days for quarantine,” she said.
She said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration will foot the bill for the hotel quarantine of OFWs while non-OFWs will shoulder the cost of their accommodation. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)