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Palace flexes muscles, diverts Mactan international flights to NAIA

Only domestic flights, outgoing international flights, and both incoming and outgoing cargo flights will be served at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport on May 29 to June 5, 2021. (Ventures Cebu Photo)

One or two international flights a day at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport over the next 8 days will be diverted to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as the Office of the President flexes its muscles and seeks to enforce uniform testing and quarantine protocols nationwide.

This is apparently an attempt to bring Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia into line.

Since April 2021, Garcia has deviated from the protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Garcia’s policy is to swab international passengers upon arrival at the Mactan Airport, not on the 7th day as mandated by the IATF, and to send those who test negative home, instead of keeping them in facility-based quarantine for 10 days and home quarantine for 4 more days per the IATF protocol.

In an advisory late Thursday night, May 27, 2021, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority listed 12 flights that will be affected by the diversion effective 12:01 a.m. of May 29 to 11:59 p.m. of June 5, 2021.

These are:

QR 924 (Doha-Cebu) on May 29

TR 384 (Singapore-Cebu) and LJ 021 (Incheon-Cebu) on May 30

QR 924 (Doha-Cebu) on May 31

QR 924 (Doha-Cebu) and EK 338 (Dubai-Cebu) on June 1

QR 924 (Doha-Cebu) on June 2

QR 924 (Doha-Cebu) and EK 338 (Dubai-Cebu) on June 3

QR 924 (Doha-Cebu) and CX 921 (Hong Kong-Cebu) on June 4

PR 153 (Los Angeles-Cebu) on June 5

Domestic flights, departing commercial flights, and both incoming and outgoing cargo flights are not affected and will continue at the Mactan Airport during the period.

Based on Garcia’s Executive Order No. 17, issued on March 30, 2021, returning overseas Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers will be swabbed for SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) upon arrival at the Mactan Airport.

They have to quarantine in a Department of Tourism-accredited hotel only while waiting for the test result, which is normally released in a few hours or up to three days.

The reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test is conducted for free by the Department of Health.

Those who test negative are allowed to immediately go home or leave for their hometowns. Garcia also ordered the local government units (LGUs) to no longer impose any additional requirement.

Under IATF Resolution No. 114, which was approved on May 6, 2021, all international passengers must go into quarantine upon arrival.

They are required to quarantine for a total of 14 days - the first 10 days in a quarantine facility and the remaining four days at home, if negative for the virus.

Travelers are swabbed on the 7th day from arrival and the result is released on the 9th day. If negative, the traveler is released from facility-based quarantine on the 10th day and sent home, where he/she will complete the remaining four days in quarantine.

Travelers must complete 10 days in facility-based quarantine even with a negative test result.

Those found positive for the virus are immediately transferred to a quarantine facility for monitoring or to a hospital to receive proper care. (Ventures Cebu)

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