Gov’t starts free mass testing of PUV drivers
Around 150 drivers and delivery partners of ride-hailing Grab were tested for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Quezon Memorial Circle on Thursday, the first batch of public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers to be covered by the government’s expanded testing program.
According to coronavirus testing czar Vince Dizon, the free swab tests for PUV drivers was part of the government’s “reinvigorated response” against the pandemic, which shows no signs of abating even as the country struggles to reopen its battered economy.
He said the program would also cover drivers of buses, jeepneys, UV Express vans and tricycles. Under the Department of Health’s expanded testing guidelines, transport workers are classified under the subgroup J1 of economy workers who are qualified to get free swab testing in any PhilHealth-accredited facility.
“This is part of our reinvigorated response to the coronavirus pandemic … of course it does not stop with only testing. We must constantly trace, test and treat those infected,” Dizon added.
National task force on COVID-19 chief implementer and presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said that since transport workers have “maximum contact” with the community, they were considered among the most vulnerable to the contagious respiratory disease.
“Even as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise here, the reality is that workers still have to report for duty. So this new targeted expanded testing is part of that new reality,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who was also present during the mass testing.
In Grab’s case, the plan is to have all 60,000 drivers and delivery partners registered under the program tested in batches, Dizon said.
Those found positive need not worry, however, as Grab has promised to include them in the company’s income protection program that guarantees up to P10,000 in financial aid for the first 14 days of quarantine.
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