Delayed delivery of test kits hampers mass testing in Baguio | Inquirer News

Delayed delivery of test kits hampers mass testing in Baguio

/ 04:16 AM May 06, 2020

FIGHTING VIRUS Health workers in Bayambang, Pangasinan, collect specimens, through swabbing, as the provincial government starts mass testing as an initial step to contain the spread of the coronavirus. —PHOTO COURTESY OF PANGASINAN PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — Test kits ran out too soon for this city just as it accelerated mass testing during the two-week extension of the enhanced community quarantine to determine how many residents had so far been infected by the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to local health officials.

On Monday, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) conducted only 10 of what should have been 200 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests daily, said Dr. Celia Flor Brillantes, assistant city health services officer. Baguio started mass testing on April 27.

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The Department of Health (DOH) said it would allocate 140,000 test kits for the city’s mass testing program, but the kits stopped coming right after it received only a hundred due to delivery problems, Brillantes said.

“We need to test 137,000 to 140,000, but it would be better if we could test more,” she said. The 140,000 tests are for 35 percent of the city population and the minimum number needed to gauge the extent of transmission.

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The mass testing gives priority to health workers and other front-liners, and vulnerable sectors.

Brillantes said BGHMC also needed at least two encoders and a pathologist for the mass testing. The hospital, which has been designated as a subnational testing north of Metro Manila, is processing swab specimens from patients in the Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and the Ilocos region.

Pangasinan testing

Baguio intends to buy 10,000 test kits worth P10 million to be used exclusively for city residents.

In Pangasinan, the provincial health office on Tuesday began its mass testing for the virus by stages in all 44 towns and three cities. It will target people suspected of having been infected but who display mild symptoms, the elderly and people with other ailments that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.

Tests will also be undertaken on high-risk pregnant mothers, migrant workers, health professionals and front-line workers, and Pangasinan residents stranded at the borders.

In Bulacan, doctors, who have resigned or retired, have been reactivated to augment the manpower of health workers battling the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

Gov. Daniel Fernando said all pending resignations and leaves of absence of doctors on government payroll were put on hold due to the health crisis.

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He said the doctors would receive hazard pay and midyear bonuses.

REPORTS FROM KIMBERLIE QUITASOL, YOLANDA SOTELO AND CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE

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