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OFW set to return to UAE tests positive for COVID-19; despedida attendees now under quarantine

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The flight of a 27-year-old Filipina set to return to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for work was hampered by her COVID-19 test that yielded a positive result days before her flight.

The overseas Filipino worker (OFW), whose identity was withheld, is the first confirmed COVID-19 case in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique.

She arrived in the Philippines last March.

According to Mayor Elmer Untaran, the OFW underwent the swab test on July 23 as part of the preparations for her flight.

“The result of the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test came out only last night, July 26,” Untaran said.

It is unknown how she contracted COVID-19.

Ten family members of the OFW who were with her since she arrived from the UAE tested negative in their rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) carried out Monday.

However, seven of her friends and relatives whom she invited for her despedida have been placed under home quarantine, according to the town’s municipal health officer, Dr. Melba Billones.

“The seven others (patients exposed to the OFW) were with the patient only last night [July 26] because she was supposed to have a ‘despedida’ or farewell party,” Billones said.

All of them, the health officer said, will be closely monitored for the next seven days.

“They will undergo the RPT-PCR within seven days if they will have signs and symptoms of COVID-19,” she said.

Mark Nituma

Mark is the editorial director of TFT and is currently based in its Manila headquarters. Upon graduating from UP Diliman in 2010, he joined the internationally-awarded TV magazine show Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho as a researcher. Nearly a year later, he became one of its segment producers. In a span of five years with GMA7, he was able to travel not only the Philippines’ most beautiful spots but also the country’s least visited places—from some of the war-torn areas of Mindanao to impoverished parts of Luzon and Visayas—capturing a closer look at life in these communities. Mark also worked with various TV programs and specials such as Philippine Treasure and Reel Time. After his five-year stint in the media network, he flew to Dubai in 2016 to start his career as a journalist/reporter for The Filipino Times. Got story pitches? Send Mark an email at [email protected] or drop him a line on

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