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SBMA: Covid testing center key factor in Subic economic rebound

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SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Covid-19 testing facilities put up by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) here have played an important role in the continuing economic growth in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone despite the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year.

This was highlighted by SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma on Wednesday, as PRC and SBMA officials and testing facilities staff marked one year of the swabbing center and the Covid-19 molecular laboratory that began operations here in June 23 last year.

Eisma said the two establishments were instrumental in the success here of the medical fight against the virus, as well as in the economic battle to provide services and resources that would keep business establishments and the Subic community going.

“These facilities gave Subic an advantage,” Eisma stressed. “They helped us establish that Subic was a safe haven—a virtual bubble where people can continue to do business with all the necessary health safety protocols and facilities in place.”

She added that because of this safe image, the Subic Bay Freeport easily became a choice location for international crew change operations, a quarantine site for arriving overseas Filipino workers, a destination for bubble sports tournament, as well as a continuing attraction for tourists from nearby areas despite the restrictive effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The PRC said a total of 87,000 individuals have been tested for Covid-19 infection in this free port in the first year of operation of SBMA’s swabbing center and the PRC’s laboratory where samples were tested.

Eisma also said these facilities had a huge impact in keeping business and industries operational in Subic, and in enabling workers to keep their jobs and feed their families during the pandemic.

“In fact, some production, importation and exportation projects kept growing since last year because Subic has remained to be a relatively safe venue for economic activities,” she added.

The SBMA chief also noted that aside from putting up the swabbing center, the Subic agency initiated the establishment of isolation facilities in the free port for the use of residents, locator workers, SBMA employees, as well as patients from nearby communities.

She said the SBMA also introduced innovations to keep Subic safe, including a cashless public transportation system, online medical and dental consultation, online job fairs, online public bidding for projects, online seminars and virtual meetings, drive-through markets, and quarantine hotels.

On Wednesday, PRC Secretary-General Liza Zaballa also visited the PRC-SBMA testing facilities to congratulate the personnel and thank them for keeping up with their mission to help save lives.

She said the frontline staff in the swabbing center and laboratory have been working for a year now and doing so without much rest. “They are really heroes in this pandemic,” Zaballa said.

The latest announcement from the SBMA indicated a relatively low number of Covid-19 cases in the free port, compared to neighboring communities.

As of June 22, the SBMA recorded a total of only 119 Covid-19 cases among free port residents since last year, with 13 active ones, 105 recoveries, and one death.

On the other hand, a total of 99 confirmed cases has been recorded among SBMA employees, seven of which are still active, and with 88 recoveries and four fatalities.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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