Airport to pilot rapid COVID testing of incoming passengers

(PNC file photo)

The Guam International Airport plans to pilot COVID testing right at the point of entry as part of the government’s continuing efforts to mitigate COVID-19.

“As far as the testing at the airport right now, we are looking at doing a pilot testing here at the airport, possibly, if not this week then the start of next week,” GIAA executive manager John Quinata said during the Guam Visitors Bureau membership meeting.

He said that initially, the airport wants to test exempted employees that are coming in through the airport.

“These are the critical service workers and the health care professionals. We will try and test them and then also track their data to make sure we get the process down pat before we start doing it for the traveling public,” Quinata said.

He added that the airport has already been meeting with the Department of Public Health and Social Services to work on the process and guidelines of COVID testing at the airport.

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According to airport deputy general manager Artemio Hernandez, Public Health is the one that drives the upon-arrival and post-arrival testing process.

“And so we’re working closely with them, to ensure that that process is efficient enough, such that the customer service factor of a post-arrival testing feature is also taken into consideration,” Hernandez said.

Aside from the PCR tests, Hernandez said there are other COVID tests already approved by the FDA like antigen tests and the Binax test which the airport could use for testing. The Binax test is especially significant because it can have results much quicker than the PCR tests which makes the turnaround quicker.

“If there are enough rapid result Binax tests offered to the airport, we will probably use those rather than PCR because obviously those might be a little bit quicker and we’re looking to ensure that the testing process or testing regime at the airport will be one that is efficient with customer convenience in mind,” Hernandez said.

He added that Guam is obviously in a somewhat unique situation where most of our visitors come not from domestic US travel but from international destinations.

“And so we’re trying to ensure that we take a look at the utility of arrivals. The need and the supply of testing kits as well as the impact of personnel requirements on Public Health as they continue to do their vaccination clinics or areas as well as the rapid testing community. We’re balancing all of those things in mind and that’s why the executive manager mentioned we’re looking at doing the pilot testing program, because I think, with the post-arrival testing process, that kind of has to go in line with some adjustments to the quarantine requirements,” Hernandez said.

He added that the airport is working with the Guam Visitors Bureau as well as DPHSS, the State Surgeon, and the governor’s office to ensure that whatever process is determined that makes sense for airport testing is adopted without the customer service aspect and the public health aspect being compromised.