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Subic Freeport Remains COVID-19 Positive Free

POGO-related Company Sponsors Covid-19 Tests

by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — A Locator-sponsored medical examination using rapid test kits (RTKs) for Covid-19 on close to a thousand frontline workers of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) yielded negative results, keeping the Subic Freeport’s record of zero positive case since the pandemic began.

Atty. Wilma T. Eisma
SBMA Chairman & Administrator

“All the 910 SBMA workers, mostly frontliners, who subjected themselves to the rapid test came out okay, and this is a huge relief to everybody in the agency as well as the Subic Freeport community,” SBMA Chairman & Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said.

The rapid testing for COVID19 was sponsored by Premium Technical Training and Facilities Inc. (PTTFI), a Freeport locator which houses Ekxinum, Inc. that operates in Subic with Chinese workers for the Smarc Group International Limited, a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) operator accredited by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR). (pls. read: POGO Refuses Entry, Inspection by SBMA Team)

“They have been working with all these health hazards for almost three months now and still face a few more weeks of risks, so we are glad that they can continue their work with confidence that they have remained clean,” she added.

Tested were mostly health workers, police and security personnel, firemen, sanitation technicians, maintenance workers, as well as some employees doing administrative work and those with health risks and comorbidities who received priority in testing, Eisma said.

An SBMA frontline worker undergoes rapid antibody testing sponsored by a POGO-related Company operating in the Subic Bay Freeport on Saturday at the Subic Bay Sports Complex. (SBMAphoto)

“We are glad that there is this opportunity to test our frontliners now because our polymerase chain reaction (PCR) mass testing project with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is not yet operational,” Eisma explained.

“It’s actually a CSR (corporate social responsibility) project of Premium Technical that they sponsored the rapid tests for SBMA frontliners in exchange for their free use of the badminton court as venue for testing of their own employees,” Ronnie Yambao, SBMA deputy administrator for health and safety said. 

Rapid testing can cost as high as P1,650, but still inexpensive compared to a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that cost from P3,500 to as much as P9,000 when administered in private hospitals.

Yambao said that according to the Department of Health’s algorithm, “if the result was IgM reactive but IgG non-reactive, we isolate for 14 days then repeat the test. If within the 14 days the person tested develops symptoms, then we will go for admission.”

“According to our health authorities here, test validation is essential. That is why if any SBMA employee gets a positive result from the rapid test, we would automatically go for a PCR test,” he added.

Yambao also said the SBMA has adopted the DOH T3 strategy, which is to test, trace and treat persons suspected of having been infected with Covid-19.

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