As the country conducts COVID-19 mass testing on Tuesday, Senator Win Gatchalian raised the need to do 10,000 mass testings a day to make the extended Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) reliable. This will identify and isolate those suspected cases of COVID-19 and treat confirmed cases nationwide, according to the senator. If that does not happen, he said, and we lift the ECQ to open the economy, there might be potential COVID-19 cases who could spread the virus and will defeat the purpose of an extended quarantine.
Gatchalian said this will then post the next question, “do we extend it again or not?”
“Kung hindi natin magagawa ang 10,000 mass testings a day at hindi natin mahahanap ang mga suspected, probable at confirmed cases ng COVID-19, sigurado pong kakalat uli ang virus sa buong bansa. Halimbawa, kung pinayagan na natin uling magbukas ang ating ekonomiya, payagan nang mamasada ang mga bus, jeepney o kaya’y MRT. Kapag ganyan ang naging sitwasyon, meron at merong potensiyal na mga kaso ng COVID-19,” stressed Gatchalian.
“Halos 50% ng COVID positive ay asymptomatic, ibig sabihin, wala silang nararamdaman. Pero kung tuloy sila sa pag-iikot, siguradong makakahawa sila, lalo na ng mga senior citizen. Duon tayo magkakaroon ng problema dahil almost 80% ng mga senior citizen ay nagkakaroon ng fatalities,” he added.
The senator said the challenge in the next two weeks is how the national government can ramp up the volume of mass testing all the way up to 10,000 tests a day. That for him will be a very important milestone.
Gatchalian reiterated the need to capacitate the Local Government Units (LGUs) and provide them with proper guidelines. He said beating COVID-19 starts within the LGUs – test and immediately contain COVID-19 positive patients at the house level or street level. He emphasized this will prevent the spread of the virus in the communities. If the spread is contained, he said, it is only then that we can open the economy.
At the same time, the senator said the Department of Health (DOH) should expedite accrediting hospitals for mass testings so that the existing accredited hospitals won’t be overburdened with large number of patients. He said the problem now lies, not with testing kits anymore but, with the limited number of accredited hospitals that will process the tests.
He likewise cited that under the Bayanihan Act, the national government can provide local laboratories with the necessary equipment so they can run their own mass testings.