277 Mandaluyong trike drivers infected
At least 277 tricycle drivers in Mandaluyong City appeared to be positive for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after undergoing rapid tests administered by the city government, an official told the Inquirer.
According to Jimmy Isidro, Mayor Carmelita “Menchie” Abalos’ chief of staff, as of Wednesday afternoon, 277 of 4,300 tricycle drivers who have been tested so far displayed the antibodies produced after the body is infected by a virus.
Isidro said the local government planned to test all of the 8,000 tricycle drivers in the city before allowing them to once again hit the streets, although under more stringent safety measures like a one-passenger limit.
Because the rapid testing was one of the requirements set by the local government before they could be allowed to resume their routes, the drivers who tested positive had yet to ferry commuters.
They are now in isolation and scheduled to undergo confirmatory swab tests, which are more reliable but harder to procure.
Efficiency of swab tests
Unlike rapid tests which only detect the presence of antibodies, a swab test can definitively identify COVID-19 in a patient.
In a television interview, Abalos said the government was puzzled by the high number of positive cases among tricycle drivers in the city. Those who were tested so far came from different villages, making it highly unlikely that they belong to a single cluster of infections.
“You cannot trace how it was spread to them because our testing was random,” Abalos said. “These drivers are all from different barangays so we cannot pinpoint.”
Abalos, however, noted that they did not exhibit symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19.
She warned that as the city gears up to test more drivers, the numbers were likely to rise in the coming days. Those who test positive and could safely self-isolate at home will be allowed to do so, while others will be quarantined in local gyms or schools.
The long-awaited return of public utility vehicles to Metro Manila roads will look far different now than it did before the global pandemic. In Mandaluyong City, tricycle drivers are now required to wear face masks and gloves and install plastic barriers between themselves and their passengers.
Alcohol and disinfectant will also be mainstays inside the vehicles.
Mandaluyong has at least 651 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 54 deaths. The cases are concentrated significantly in two villages: Addition Hills and Mauway, with 111 and 94 infections, respectively. Both areas were previously placed under more extreme lockdown to curb the spread of the disease and allow community testing.
Marikina City was the first to resolve to test all of its tricycle drivers for COVID-19 before they could hit the road. Its last update was that three had tested positive, but only after 1,084 of 6,000 were tested.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.