Cebu News

Labella asked: Develop mass testing program

Mary Ruth R. Malinao - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Cebu City Council has “strongly requested” the executive department to develop an own local Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) targeted and mass testing strategy for the city.

This is to get a wider and clearer picture of scale of the outbreak pursuant to the call of the World Health Organization (WHO) for countries to conduct massive testing, isolation to those who are infected, contact tracing, and treatment.

The executive department is headed by Mayor Edgardo Labella.

Councilor Alvin Dizon sponsored a resolution with regard to the “urgent and imperative” matter which was approved by the City Council in a special session on Friday, April 24.

"While expanded testing has been prescribed by the Department of Health (DOH) Department Memorandum 2020-0151 and reiterated by Department Circular No. 2020-0179, the Cebu City government must have its own strategy on targeted COVID–19 mass testing in light of the prevailing condition that our city has now become the epicenter of the outbreak in Central Visayas," said Dizon.

Dizon cited the "alarming findings" by the City of Valenzuela, when they conducted their targeted mass testing where five persons under monitoring (PUMs) tested positive for COVID-19.

It is alarming, he said, since “PUMs are last priority” in the hierarchy of swabbing as per DOH guidelines on who to be tested.

"By following these DOH guidelines on the testing of PUMs as the last in the hierarchy, this poses a grave danger in our communities since they can be potential carriers and we do not want another Sitio Zapatera to happen in our city," said Dizon.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for urgent action of countries to ramp up efforts to identify, isolate, and contact trace people with COVID-19 emphasizing that testing of all suspected cases is a vital part of understanding the scale of the outbreak and how it is evolving.

Effective testing programs allow governments and health authorities to understand how prevalent the disease is and tracking positive test results helps authorities make evidence-based decisions to try to slow the spread of the disease.

South Korea has been cited as a model country on how aggressive testing and social distancing measures slowed COVID-19 transmission and a much lower mortality rate than many other COVID-19 hotspots.

WHO’s COVID-19 Situation Report 73 dated April 2, 2020, discussing the routes of transmission of the disease, reported available evidence on transmission from symptomatic, pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people infected with the virus.  JMD (FREEMAN)

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