Around 4,000 Cebu public market vendors to be tested for COVID-19
CEBU CITY – At least 4,000 stall vendors at Cebu City’s biggest public market will undergo testing for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in a bid to further slow down the transmission of the virus here.
Retired General Melquiades Feliciano, deputy chief implementer of Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Visayas (IATF), said testing is part of government’s strategy to contain the spread of the virus in areas with a high rate of COVID-19 infection.
“We now know where the virus is so we will identify the extent of the infection, isolate them, and provide necessary health interventions,” he said.
Based on reports local authorities received, most of those infected with the virus in the city had gone to Carbon Public Market in Barangay Ermita.
Dr. Michelle Linsalata, Cebu City Health Department (CCHD) assistant head, said the city government is expected to spend around P4 million to acquire test kits should the mass testing at the Carbon Public Market push through.
The testing, she said, will be conducted by the Department of Health.
Linsalata said the IATF has been closely coordinating with the Cebu City Market Administrator, officials of Barangay Ermita, and the market vendors’ association to discuss the matter.
“It is important that we do this right away. We are hoping vendors who test positive will be isolated because if not, that will be the source of another infection,” she said.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella assured the public and businesses that rely on the Carbon Market for products that it will not close down even if the city would conduct mass testing among the vendors.
Labella said only a portion of the market where the stall of the vendor who tested positive for the virus was located would be closed to people.
“It will be like a granular lockdown. Only the affected stalls and those around it will be closed. We will not close the entire public market,” he said.
Lawyer Rey Gealon, spokesperson of City Hall, said health officials were still studying whether the tests will be done through rapid testing or real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
RT-PCR test, which uses actual swabs from patients’ nose or throat, is the most popular testing method for COVID-19 in the Philippines and is still considered by health authorities as the “gold standard” for detecting the coronavirus.
The test detects SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the body.
The other method—rapid antibody test—requires the patient’s blood sample and can only detect antibodies that the body produced against the virus.
While discussions are ongoing, the local market authority has already tightened the security in the area to ensure that the public will follow the health protocols such as wearing face masks and observance of physical distancing.
As of August 1, Cebu City has 9,053 cases of COVID-19 where 2,942 were active with 5,591 recoveries and 520 deaths, according to the Department of Health.
At least 774 persons were admitted in hospitals while 2,168 others stayed at the different quarantine facilities in the city.
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