Resume much-needed Covid-19 tests, PRC urged

Health warriors: A woman walking past a mural paying tribute to Covid-19 frontliners in Manila. — AP

THE Philippine Red Cross (PRC) should continue its Covid-19 testing services after President Rodrigo Duterte gave his assurance that the government will settle the more than 930 million peso (RM79mil) debt of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth), Malacanang said.“The President has committed to pay. I don’t think there’s any reason for Red Cross to doubt that the President committed to pay.

“And because of this, I believe testing should continue since the Red Cross has been assured that they will be paid, ” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview on CNN Philippines yesterday.

Since Oct 16, PRC stopped conducting tests on arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), passengers in airports and seaports, individuals asking for Covid-19 tests in government swabbing facilities, front line health and government workers, and others included in the expanded testing guidelines of the Department of Health.

The humanitarian organisation said these services could not resume until PhilHealth paid its overdue balance.

Since the PRC halted testing, over 4,000 repatriated OFWs have been stranded in Metro Manila due to the delayed release of their swab results.

“The sooner this issue of payment is resolved, the better for our OFWs and the better for the finances of our government. This is a big problem, ” Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Tuesday.

In a taped speech aired on Monday night, Duterte assured that the government would settle PhilHealth’s debt.

“Do not worry, we will pay. It will take time but we will pay. We’ll look for the money. Do not worry, ” Duterte said.

Roque said the government intended to settle half of the debt as soon as possible.

The PRC has played a key role in Covid-19 screening in the country.

It has conducted over one million coronavirus tests, accounting for over 25% of the total coronavirus testing nationwide. — Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

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