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Gov’t urged to conduct ‘effective, more inclusive’ COVID-19 mass tests

/ 01:56 PM April 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The National People’s Coalition (NPC) strongly urged the country’s COVID-19 inter-agency task force and the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure the immediate conduct of an “effective” and a “more inclusive” COVID-19 mass testing.

“The steady rise of COVID-19 positive cases, including those who are suspected of being infected is of serious national concern… There were several instances where suspected COVID-19 patients died, even before knowing the results of the test on whether they are COVID-19 positive,” the NPC’s resolution dated April 17 read.

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“On several occasions too, people who exhibited symptoms of the virus have died, without having been tested before they were cremated,” it added.

The NPC called on the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and the DOH as well as other relevant government offices “to fast track the conduct of an effective, efficient, responsive and more inclusive mass testing for Filipinos for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

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These testings, the party noted, should be done through the use of DOH-certified laboratories for COVID-19 testing, through the use of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and/or rapid testing kits, “pursuant to the directives of government authorities, qualified by the medical experts, and in accordance with the best practices.”

The NPC also urged the IATF and DOH to assist various local government units (LGUs) “with the establishment of such number of laboratories as are sufficient to meet the demands of mass testing, in order to process test samples in a timely manner.”

The party also asked the DOH to “unimpededly” implement the guidelines and protocols, in the set-up of Biosafety Level 2 facilities and laboratories nationwide as well as the “necessary laboratory equipment and instruments and the determination of the viability and suitability of already existing ones for the intended mass testing, within the DOH-guided control of the respective local government units (LGUs).”

The NPC further said that the DOH should study the utilization of the PCR GeneXpert machines, of which there are about 448 units all over the Philippines.

The Philippines earlier acquired its first batch of GeneXpert test kits which promises faster results than the real-time PCR test kits being used n the 17 DOH-accredited laboratories nationwide.

The real-time PCR ideally has a turnaround time of 24 hours.

The NPC likewise urged the DOH to “effectively assist in the conduct of trainings of laboratory technologists for biosafety and PCR/Rapid Test procedures.”

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The party then asked the department to immediately conduct ocular inspections and examination of these facilities, to certify these laboratories for COVID-19 testing to immediately operate—including the regular calibration of the equipment and instruments—and to put in place a “simple yet effective procedure” for their operations.

The NPC also wants the IATF to issue a classificatory statement on the utilization of funds by LGUs in their purchase of rapid test kits pursuant to DOH guidelines and protocols.

“It is recommended to explore as many test kits as possible that are duly approved for use by the (Food and Drug Administration), such as those acquired by the Asian Development Bank and the Global Funds/Philippines Business for Social Progress for the Department of Health,” the resolution read.

The NPC then urged the IATF and the DOH to ensure that the public receives “an accurate, opportune and transparent” reporting of data and information related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members and officers of NPC include senators, district representatives and provincial governors.

To date, Philippine health officials have confirmed 6,259 COVID-19 cases in the country.

Of the number, 409 have died while 572 patients have so far recovered.

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For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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