Government starts search for asymptomatics

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - August 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government will conduct a house-to-house search for people who are infected with coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Health (DOH) will initially conduct the search in Metro Manila and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon).

The regions account for the high number of new cases reported by the DOH in the past few weeks, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The move aims to identify, test and isolate people infected with the virus, but do not feel sick.

Vergeire said the DOH is adopting the so-called Dharavi Model of Mumbai, India, which has become a global model for the management of COVID-19.

Under the plan, health authorities will identify asymptomatic persons in communities, test and isolate them.

Dharavi is a 2.5-square-kilometer slum area in Mumbai with a population of close to one million.

The surveillance and containment measures implemented by the government of India have controlled the spread of the virus.

These measures include screening, testing and isolation of possible COVID-19 cases.

In a DOH forum, Vergeire expressed confidence that the cases could be “contained effectively and efficiently” during the two-week modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) imposed in Metro Manila and Calabarzon.

She said the government intends to fully implement the CODE Protocols, or the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic, to “crush the clusters of infections.”

Under the program, the national government will provide support to local government units that need help the most.

These pertain to localities with a high number of cases and fewer available resources such as testing and isolation facilities.

Distribution of face masks, face shields and hygiene kits is also part of the program, Vergeire said.

After the MECQ, the DOH is expecting a 10-point achievement, including stopping the use of rapid antibody test (RATs) kits for screening.

“We have always emphasized that RATs is not recommended by DOH as a method to screen individuals for COVID-19. There are other uses for RATs, but not for COVID screening and detection,” Vergeire said.

Aside from stopping the use of RATS, the DOH is expecting to see high awareness and compliance with minimum health standards.

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