Carbon market vendors to undergo pooled testing
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - September 29, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The pooled testing will finally kick off tomorrow in Cebu City with the Carbon market vendors as first initial target sector.

Around 2,000 vendors, both stall owners and ambulant, have agreed to participate in this testing.

The vendors have been divided into five units spread into three days. Tomorrow, occupants of Unit 1 will be tested; Units 2 and 3 on Thursday; and the remaining units, mainly those at the barracks and Freedom Park area, on Friday.

While the testing is being conducted, Carbon market will remain open, according to Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the Operations Emergency Center.

During the Department of Health-y’s weekly virtual presser, Covid-19 spokesperson and DOH-7 chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche said there will be a pool of five individuals for each sample.

“Based on what we did here in our molecular lab, I am very confident if it's by pools of five. Meaning, there will be five different individuals with five different samples turned into a singular sample,” said Loreche.

It is best this way, said Loreche, as it can save on costs as against a pool of 10 or more as in case a sample turns positive, each of the individuals’ samples on that particular group will have to be tested anew to be able to find out who is really Covid-19 positive.

“The higher the number of samples pooled together, it would be costly to see which one is really the positive sample,” Loreche said.

What makes this pooled testing something to look forward to is that it will be using a “tandem” mode of testing. For tomorrow’s pooled testing, rapid antibody test and the RT-PCR test will be used.

“The beautiful thing is that it will be in tandem. We want to know how they are and we also want to know if naa pa gyuy mga vendors nga positive,” said Loreche.

Results are expected to be released within 24 hours, unless a batch will be found positive as they will have to be re-processed again.

“We have to be proactive. We have to be aggressive about kaning mga areas ang traffic, footprints, if we want to know if Covid is there, not just kaning sa atong contact tracing,” said Garganera.

The Carbon market had been selected as initial area for the pooled sampling after the EOC found a higher number of outside transmission.

Pooled sampling had already been done abroad and also in Makati. This, however, will only work well when there is a low prevalence of cases, meaning more negative results are expected than positive.

Loreche said she hopes that other LGUs here and the rest will have themselves tested to be able to see the true picture of this Covid-19 pandemic.

“The only way to see the true stat, true nature of Covid 19, we have to be tested as well as how far we are in terms of exposure and transmission of the virus in Central Visayas,” said Loreche.

Loreche said even if a vaccine is already available, it also does not necessarily mean zero transmission.

“It’s not the vaccine that will save us, but how we live our lives today,” she said. — JMD (FREEMAN)

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