(File photo)

MANILA – About 300 employees of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) have tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) since January 1, an official said on Tuesday.

A mass testing was conducted among the employees after the holiday break, and many, including technical personnel, have tested positive of the virus, CAAP chief of staff Danjun Lucas said in the Laging Handa public briefing.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio said CAAP has 6,918 employees across the country and 6,643 of them were already inoculated against Covid-19.

Apolonio said 289 out of the 1,486 employees at CAAP central office tested positive upon taking an antigen test and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for confirmation.

"Few hours after the test results (were received), the hourly arrival at the NAIA was reduced from 18 to 16 per hour," he said.

During the briefing, Lucas said many who tested positive and who were exposed to Covid positive individuals are air traffic controllers.

"So we conducted (Covid) tests for the other air controllers. We provided them a facility where they could stay and provided them with other necessities so they are safe while we continue our operations," Lucas said.

Lucas said this resulted in delays in flights as the airlines also decreased their manpower due to Covid-19 infections.

"Air controllers are important in maintaining safe operations at the airports, and in ensuring the safety of passengers going in, outside and within the Philippine airspace," he said.

"That is why, you may have noticed that many flights were either canceled or delayed in the past weeks. That was because there was a decrease in the number of pilots, cabin crew, even ground handlers and security personnel," he added.

Lucas said some of the CAAP employees have already recovered and some have already finished their quarantine period.

At least 40 percent of CAAP employees are currently working from home, he said. (PNA)