Forty passengers on a flight from Manila to Davao City in the Phillipines have tested positive for coronavirus.
Davao City uses a “Test and Wait” system where passengers are swabbed at the airport and only allowed to leave if they return a negative reverse transcript polymerase chain reaction test result (RT-PCR).
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said there was a chance the infected passengers who arrived on September 21 were asymptomatic when they boarded the plane in Ninoy Aquino International Airport after passing a thermal detector, CNN reported.
“There is a big possibility that these patients were all asymptomatic since upon entering the Manila airport they undergo symptom screening like checking the temperature,” Mayor Duterte said on Friday (local time).
The 40 passengers were taken to the Southern Philippine Medical Centre, the designated COVID-19 referral hospital in Davao City.
Mayor Duterte told radio station Davao City Disaster Radio the cases reiterated the need to implement swab testing at all airports.
“One of the things we are addressing right now is the arrival of several confirmed RT-PCR cases through plane travel. Lately, many positive cases are arriving. We have seen, from the very start, that allowing plane travel will be a problem.
“The plane travel could spread COVID-19 virus very fast, so we did a ‘test and wait.’ That’s our intervention.”
Mayor Duterte added there was a need to improve the system so passengers spend less time waiting at airports for results, which could increase transmission rates.
“What we need to improve is the convenience of the air passengers. We don’t want them to stay longer there at our airport where they can sit beside a positive case and we don’t know who among them are positive,” she said.
Davao City has recorded a total of 1,818 COVID-19 cases and 71 deaths as of Thursday. Of this number there are currently 286 active cases or currently ill patients.
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