Good News: Targeted Mass Testing in Valenzuela City Starts Today

The city will shoulder the expenses, too.

(SPOT.ph) The Department of Health announced on April 4 that mass testing in the Philippines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic begins on April 14 with an estimated 3,000 tests to be conducted per day and aims to increase capacity between 8,000 to 10,000 tests by the end of April. The widespread testing of persons under investigation and persons under monitoring has been urged by citizens and medical practitioners since the beginning of the community quarantine, especially after this move has been considered as the "backbone" of South Korea in containing the spread of the virus.

While we wait for mass testing to begin in the whole of Metro Manila, here's some good news: Mayor Rex Gatchalian announced that targeted mass testing officially begins in Valenzuela City today, April 11. This will be the first public-private partnership for mass testing of mass COVID-19 testing done in the country, according to a report by CNN Philippines.

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Valenzuela City partnered with The Medical City to conduct the confirmatory testing procedures, which have the capacity and the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machine which can process Valenzuela's procured test kits. The mayor noted that they are looking at the possibility of partnering with other accredited labs with machines compatible with the test kits procured.

The city now has 1,000 commercial test kits developed in Korea and has FDA approval, with each set including a swab kit, test kit, and extraction kit. The total cost of each test is P5,150, which Gatchalian notes is cheaper than the World Health Organization’s average test kit and processing cost. City pathologist Dr. Amelia Fibra says that the acquired kits were bought before the UP-developed test kits were approved. "The city will shoulder the expenses for the testing," Gatchalian says. "Walang babayaran ang constituents.”

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The local government unit (LGU) plans on testing 537 people in total—all persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs). According to Dr. Jaime M. Exconde Jr., one of the senior doctors at the city health office, the priority will be PUIs, PUMs who are senior citizens, those with comorbidity, and health workers in hospitals. With their current resources, Valenzuela will be able to conduct a minimum of 25 tests per daywith Gatchalian noting that all known PUIs and PUMs can be tested after 20 days, after which the government can begin isolating and treating those who test positive. 

Main image from Valenzuela City's Twitter page.

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For more information, log on to Valenzuela City's Twitter page.

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