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Kiosks for swab testing passengers at Mactan-Cebu International Airport | Photos from MCIAA

Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) and GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation have begun operations of a dedicated coronavirus disease (COVID-19) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing laboratory at Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA).

The lab holds a BSL-2 certification from the Department of Health and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and complies with Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade’s directive for airports to have a dedicated laboratory.

The 400-square meter lab is designed to process 1,500 to 3,000 tests per day with test results available after 24 hours, the shortest time in the country to release swab test results.

“When it became clear that testing capability was going to be a prerequisite for the resumption of international travel, we immediately embarked on the ambitious project of putting up the fastest built and accredited molecular laboratory with the capability to do mass testing and generate results in the quickest possible time,” MCIAA general manager and chief executive officer Atty. Steve Dicdican said.

“It should be noted that the airport will not profit a single cent from the laboratory because we envisioned this to be our contribution to the government’s effort to bring home our stranded kababayans (countrymen) at minimal cost to them and the government and to jumpstarting our economy,” he added.

International commercial flights remain suspended at MCIA but sweeper or repatriation flights as well as rerouted flights from Manila are allowed. Cargo flights have also been operating since community quarantine measures were implemented in March.

All international passengers arriving at MCIA are required to undergo a COVID-19 PCR swab test upon arrival and must have a confirmed hotel accommodation in Cebu for a specific number of days while waiting for their test result. The cost of PCR swab test for returning non-overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and foreign nationals is P4,900 to be paid by the passenger; and for land-based OFWs and seafarers, P4,400.00 to be shouldered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Agency.

All returning non-OFWs and foreign nationals arriving at MCIA via international flights can pay for their swab tests at least 48 hours before arriving at the airport. The prepayment scheme, however, does not apply to returning OFWs and seafarers.

Moreover, all international passengers arriving at MCIA on July 15 onwards are required to fill out the online Passenger Arrival Registration form.

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