Gov. Arthur Yap has issued an order on the protocols for the repatriation of distressed and stranded returning Boholano overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) because of COVID-19.

The first batch to be allowed entry can be 18 of the 81 OFWs so far accounted for by the Overseas Welfare Administration (OWWA) to have been “locked” in Cebu since arrival, the governor said in a Capitol press conference this afternoon.

The national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) strongly enjoined the local government units (LGUs) in the country to allow the unhampered transit of the OFWs who have been issued Department of Health (DOH) or LGU certificates of completion of14-day facility-based quarantine.

The 1Bohol COVID-19 Task Force Medical Technical Team crafted the guidelines in allowing the return of the migrant workers to the province.

The League of the Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) – Bohol Chapter adopted the guidelines in a resolution on Monday, April 20.

In front of the media, Yap signed Executive Order (EO) No. 25 on the stringent quarantine protocols for the returning OFWs as the safety of the province’s 1.3 million residents must be ensured at the same time.

Based on the EO, the OFW’s are subject to the following protocols:

*They shall undergo a complete 14-day quarantine supervised and duly certified by the DOH at the point of origin and followed by the conduct of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved rapid antibody test.

*A person who is positive in the rapid COVID-19 antibody test shall remain at the place of origin for further testing using the viral RNA (PCR) method. Corresponding Protocols shall be allowed corresponding to the testing result and confirmation.

*If any member of a group in a common quarantine facility tests positive in the rapid anti-body test, the whole group shall remain at the place of origin for further viral RNA ((PCR) testing

*On the other hand, a person who tests negative in the rapid antibody test and has completed the 14-day quarantine shall present a DOH certification of quarantine and the result of the rapid antibody test to the OWWA and Bohol Provincial Emergency Management Administration (PEMA).

*PEMA must receive the DOH certification of quarantine and the negative result within 24 hours before the OFW’s scheduled departure for Bohol.

*On departure date, there shall be no disruption of the travel of the OFWs from the quarantine facility at the place of origin to the seaport/airport.

*The returning OFW must have no symptoms such as fever, cough, coryza, sore throat, diarrhea, and shortness of breathing at the time of plane/ship boarding.

*All persons with symptom/s shall not be allowed to board the aircraft/vessel regardless of having taken any test and a certification issued to that effect.

*Masks shall be worn at all times during the transportation process. Hand sanitation must be done at every point of vehicle transfer.

*The pick-up vehicle shall be ready at the port of arrival. Passengers shall not be allowed to disembark or deplane if the ground transportation is not yet available.

*Immediately upon arrival, they shall be placed in a PEMA-appproved quarantine facility for 14 days.

*Transfer from port of arrival to the quarantine facility or hotel shall in no case be disrupted.

*Persons who have tested negative in the rapid antibody test at the point of embarkation shall undergo viral RNA (PCR) testing one week after the arrival at the quarantine facility in Bohol to confirm the result of the rapid test.

*Protocols at the quarantine facility shall be followed strictly without exemptions.*Persons under quarantine cannot be visited by members of their families or any persons for the duration of their 14-day quarantine.

*All repatriation processes shall be temporarily suspended until further notice once a positive case is found either in the group or in the province.

NOT YET APPLICABLE TO OFWs IN NCR

However, the repatriation protocol EO shall not apply to returning Boholano OFWs from the National Capital Region due to the “high disease burden” there.

The protocols in the order are subject to continuing review due to the evolving nature and treatment of the pandemic.

Yap orderd the PEMA, in coordination with all concerned agencies, to undertake the planning and implementation of the executive issuance.

Only after the OFWs in the initial batch shall have completed their quarantine that another group will be considered for entry.Hopefully by that time, the capabilities and confidence increase in handling returning Boholanos.

Yap said “we can, thus, decide to increase the rate we are accepting Bol-anons to come home.

“Boholanos have to be aware of the strategy to prevent the virus from coming, prevent its spread locally in case of transmission, and build up Bohol’s healthcare ability to respond to cases, the governor said. (Ven rebo Arigo)