Senator Grace Poe has pushed anew for an aggressive, widespread testing all over the country to help end the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We cannot effectively fight the Covid-19 pandemic without massive testing to find out who has the disease. Testing has to happen on an enormous scale to curb the spread of the virus, keep deaths low and allow the economy to recover,” Poe said.
The senator stressed the testing should be given for free.
Poe made the call as the national government announced it would be buying at least two million rapid test kits and close to a million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits.
Getting to the ideal scale of tests would demand a huge ramp up in capacity and closer coordination between the national government, led by the Department of Health, and local government units.
“Kung mas maraming testing kits, mas madali itong maipapamahagi ng mga LGU sa mga barangay. Sana naman mabigyan ng pagkakataon na ma-test ang mas marami natin kababayan,” Poe said.
Poe said massive testing is especially critical for finding people who may be spreading the virus without showing symptoms. It is similarly essential in areas where there are persons with suspected or mild cases of Covid-19.
“Kailangan mabilis ang testing in the shortest possible time para makapagsagawa agad ng contact tracing,” she said.
“Kung merong makakatulong, wala namang perpektong siyensiya sa ngayon, as long as hindi ito makakadagdag ng peligro, ay payagan naman natin,” Poe stressed.
Poe said massive testing could be a cost-effective public health intervention that the government could implement.
“Mahaba pa ang krisis na ito at kung hindi natin ito aayusin, magiging mahirap ang ating pakikipaglaban sa mga darating na araw,” she said.
Poe cited data from the state-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies, which said that if the county fails to curb the disease, it could require 500,000 more ICU beds; 300,000 mechanical ventilators; and a million hospital beds for patients.
Poe lauded the initiative of several LGUs which have been aggressive in conducting testing among their residents, such as Valenzuela City, and Marikina City, which even constructed its own testing laboratory.
The Department of Health has given the go-signal to allow the testing center to operate starting April 21.
Led by its mayor, Rex Gatchalian, Valenzuela City has been in gear in providing quarantine facilities for Covid-19 patients and in conducting massive tests among its constituents in partnership with hospitals and the private sector.
Poe said the financial aid to cities and municipalities, equivalent to one month of their Internal Revenue Allotment, may be tapped to procure test kits as part of their Covid-19 response efforts.
LGUs may also work with private corporations, businesses and donor organizations for test kits donations or at cost prices./Stacy Ang