Test kits
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - March 25, 2020 - 12:00am

VIP. That term is so powerful in the country's setting. Powerful enough to be thrust into the front of the line and get what you want. In this case, COVID-19 testing. Politicians, their families, influentials, high-ranking police officials, close friends of the president and even a former first lady were able to undergo COVID-19 testing despite being asymptomatic. In other words, instead of those who need testing, these VIPs took it upon themselves to be served first.

As word of this reached the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging and Infectious Diseases spokesman and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, he reminded everyone that only those truly qualified as per the guidelines of the DOH are to be tested in an orderly manner. No one should be entitled at this time. One senator immediately defended his move by saying he had a cough and sore throat. The Senate President had himself tested twice but claims the first test was done by a private entity. Imelda Marcos was one of the alleged VIPs tested. Seems she is a VIP for life.

It was not long before DOH Sec. Duque who himself is on self-quarantine comes to the defense of the VIPs as they "passed the initial criteria" set again by the DOH. What happened to symptomatic? Is that a criterion down the line? I wouldn't be surprised if all this is to tailor to these VIPs. A thousand test kits from China have already been distributed in various sub-national laboratories. The VIPs may have gotten word and started strong-arming to the RITM while many are silently queuing and waiting for their turn. For all we know they could already be infecting each other in that line. Isn't why we have people under monitoring (PUM) to monitor if any symptoms appear, then get tested? Many doctors and nurses already need to be tested, why not test them first? The only way to know the extent of COVID-19 in the country is to test as many as we can.

The experience of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan under the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002 served to prepare them in case a similar situation would arise. It did with COVID-19. As such, they have been praised by the World Health Organization (WHO) for their actions to prevent the spread of the virus in their country. Quick action to close down schools, suggesting work-from-home, closely monitoring their borders and testing for free. They have also been using thermal scanners at the airports since 2003.

When COVID-19 exploded, the DOH only had 2,000 test kits. They were rebuked at the Senate. After the COVID-19 pandemic passes, we should know we have to be prepared to avoid being overwhelmed. A large budget for healthcare must be available particularly for agencies such as the DOH, RITM, and government hospitals. We already know that a virus spreads quickly and the importance of test kits. We should already know to close our borders even from a friendly country and not worry about the political ramifications. A virus cares nothing of politics.


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