Philippine Red Cross gives seafarers top priority on RT-PCR test
The Philippine Red Cross is giving top priority to seafarers belonging to the ALMA Maritime Group in administering reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test to ensure their glitch-free deployment.This special treatment for seafarers of ALMA was made possible after the newly-organized manning group, composed of 50 licensed manning agencies handling 110,000 ocean going seafarers, had forged a partnership with the Red Cross to guarantee smoother and faster RT-PCR testing, the widely accepted COVID-19 test for seafarers. Filipino seafarers require robust testing before they are allowed to work on ships in order to avoid the transmission of virus. The seafaring industry is largely challenged with the predatory costs of RT-PCR tests in the Philippines and the long wait of the results which will not be accepted by the joining ports once the seafarers reach the foreign ports. That problem would practically be a thing of the past with the memorandum of agreement between ALMA and the Red Cross which the latter assures the seafarers an expedited release of test results at a reduced cost. Formed only during the height of the pandemic, ALMA was born due to necessity after new guidelines on travel restrictions, health protocols, and other regulations of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases failed to reach many manning agencies.