’Strategic’ mass testing for COVID-19 to be conducted in Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu
CEBU CITY –– A strategic mass testing will be implemented in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu starting Monday, May 4, to determine the next steps authorities need to take in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The three cities, where the bulk of the working population on the island is found, may transition from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ) on May 21, depending on the results of the mass testing.
“When we do this (mass testing), we should expect a rise in positive cases given that the virus is highly transmissible. We fear that possibility but it should not be a cause for panic. Knowing our status is a step towards a solution and is way better than fighting this disease blindly,” said Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) in a press statement.
Strategic testing will involve 10 percent of the total number of households per barangay in every city.
Based on the data of the health departments of the three cities, a total of 46,896 individuals will be tested.
“A total of 33 teams composed of nurses and medical technologists will be deployed to conduct sample collections at the barangay. These samples will be sent to our partner laboratories to be tested,” Bernadas said.
He reiterated the need to stay at home while waiting for the results of whether or not the person tested has to be subjected to confirmatory testing using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
If the PCR test yields a positive result, then the patient will be transferred to the barangay isolation center (BIC) for isolation and monitoring.
Bernadas said the strategic testing would be done within 10 days or until May 20.
“(By then), we will now have the scientific data upon which we can anchor our decision to either continue with our ECQ or transition to GCQ,” he said.
With continuous testing, the tagging of zones will be done.
The DOH-7 has yet to determine the classification whether it would be under the Red Zone (high cases), Orange Zone (moderate cases), or Green Zone (zero cases).
If the results of the community-based testing under the Project Balik Buhay is favorable for businesses to resume their operations, the private sector will complement this program by having their employees tested prior to the re-opening of their respective businesses along with the establishment of workplace safety measures against COVID-19.
“This program aims to identify the COVID-19 cases in the three cities at the community level. It involves systematic testing of individuals at the barangay level with the use of FDA-approved rapid test kits as a conduit to PCR testing,” Bernadas said.
Mayors Edgardo Labella of Cebu City, Jonas Cortes of Mandaue, and Junard Chan of Lapu-Lapu said their respective BIC and quarantine facilities are in place for the strategic mass testing.
Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino revealed that while Cebu transitions from ECQ to GCQ, public transportation would still be limited.
He said 200 buses accredited by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas would ply Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu cities to cater to the riding public especially once businesses re-open.
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