COVID-19 tests are being made into a business and their high prices are preventing tourists and other individuals from coming to Cebu, according to an official of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC).

This as the group also lauded the move of the Department of Tourism (DOT) to push for the lowering of the high prices of Covid-19 tests, may it be reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or antigen.

“If all the testings like the RT-PCR and the antigen test fees will be reduced, this would be very, very helpful for the tourists. As we all know this is the only way for us to really test if you’re a carrier or not,” HRRAC president Alfred Reyes told SunStar Cebu.

Reyes pointed out that the prices are a challenge to travelers because in Cebu alone, there are hospitals that charge rates for the RT-PCR tests depending on the type of traveler.

“If you’re going for leisure, it’s more expensive,” said Reyes compared to an authorized person outside of residence (Apor) who takes the same test.

“There’s no clear policy on the price of an RT-PCR. It is being made into a business. In fact, instead of helping our economy to start moving, how can people move when in majority of these testing centers, the prices of testing are still very high?” he lamented.

Testing rates

The cost of Covid-19 tests in Cebu remains in the thousands of pesos in some hospitals although there are continuous efforts to lower the prices.

In one private hospital’s website, an RT-PCR costs more than P3,000 while antigen tests are priced at P960. They also have a separate rate for airline passengers.

Meanwhile in another hospital in Cebu, an RT-PCR test costs only P900 with a Philhealth reduction.

Reyes described the cost of the Covid-19 test as an added financial burden on people.

“How many people are looking for jobs? How many people are going around doing business? So of course, if these testings are high, they’re just going to jack up also their prices because they have to pass it on to someone else,” he said.

“Bringing these test fees down will be a very good move for the DOT to push for these regulated and lowered testing fees,” he added.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat recently pushed for the further slashing of Covid-19 fees to encourage more travel.

Recently, the Inter-Agency Task Force implemented a No Age Restriction policy for travelers from Metro Manila traveling to tourist destinations under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) and GCQ where the local government units are open for travelers.