Recto: LSIs should also be given free swab tests | Inquirer News

Recto: LSIs should also be given free swab tests

/ 01:05 PM July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — If guests who attended President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) were swab tested for free, so should “more important” VIPs or “very important passengers” be given the same gold standard of testing.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto issued this call Wednesday as he lamented the condition of locally-stranded individuals (LSIs) “who have been packed for days in quarters so crammed that physical distancing was impossible, even for those adamant in observing it.”

“If we have tested for free those who’ve been on strict quarantine because they’re going to listen to a speech, then all the more we should test exposed individuals who are going home to their loved ones,” Recto said in a statement.


“[A]ng daming tao ngayon na ilang buwan nang nakaistambay, or sleeping rough, kumpol-kumpol. The same abundance of caution required of the few who attended the SONA should be applied to many,” he added.


(A lot of people have been stranded for months, sleeping rough, and are staying in cramped spaces. The same abundance of caution required of the few who attended the SONA should be applied to many.)

These LSIs are entitled to the “same gold standard of testing,” according to Recto.

“[M]ore so that they’ve been lodged in a place that will check all the boxes in the list of a possible outbreak spot,” he added.

LSIs are only required to undergo coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rapid antibody testing.

The Food and Drug Administration earlier reportedly said that antigen tests are still not as reliable as the real-time polymerase chain reaction tests which are dubbed as the “gold standard” of COVID-19 testing.

Recto issued the statement following public criticism over the lack of physical distancing at the Rizal Sports Complex where thousands are awaiting transportation back to the provinces via the government’s “Hatid Tulong” program, which offers free transportation assistance to ferry stranded individuals to their home provinces amid the coronavirus pandemic.


The senator said it would also ease the burden to local government units if LSIs scheduled to return to their areas will be tested for the coronavirus.

“It will be a great sigh of relief for them if the returnees carry the health clearance that matters,” he said.

No ‘hitchhiking’ of virus

According to Recto, a swab test for LSIs would spare understaffed and underfunded local government units and local hospitals from handling a “pasa load” from the national government.

“A swab test will ensure that the coronavirus will not be hitchhiking to family reunions. Those positive will be flagged from boarding,” he said.

While Recto noted the shortage of test kits in the country, he said “this grandstand of people are the prime candidates for mass testing.”

“I will leave it to the true experts and scientists in the IATF (The Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases) to study this clamor of LSIs, and how to implement it,” he added.

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To date, Philippines health officials have confirmed 83,673 COVID-19 cases in the country. Of the number, 26,617 have already recovered while 1,947 succumbed to the disease.


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TAGS: COVID-19, LSIs, Nation, News, Ralph Recto

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