Cebu City to test jeepney drivers for COVID-19
CEBU CITY –– At least 1,200 traditional jeepney drivers in this city will undergo testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Monday to further slow down the transmission of the virus.
Cebu City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, head of the city’s Jeepney Task Force, said the test, which was among the requirements before drivers could ply the city’s streets again, would be done through pooled sampling.
“We’re asking the DOH-7 (Department of Health in Central Visayas), if possible to prioritize the tests for our drivers because they have been waiting to return to the roads for so long already. We don’t want to prolong their agony,” Cuenco said.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “pooled swab testing” means combining respiratory samples from several people and conducting a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test on the combined pool of samples to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
If a pooled sample is negative, all samples in that pool are considered negative. Otherwise, each of the samples in the pool would need to be tested individually to determine which samples are positive.
Pooling via groups of five to 10 persons allows laboratories to test more samples with fewer testing materials and could be useful in scenarios like returning groups of workers to a workplace.
The same procedure was used in testing at least 4,000 market vendors in the city last month.
The resumption of jeepney operations in the city was supposed to start on Nov. 11 but was postponed to a later date, while local officials comply with directives in conducting coronavirus tests for drivers.
Cuenco said authorities still had to comply with the recent directive from DOH-7 to pool test those whose intent is for non-diagnosis purposes.
Mayor Edgardo Labella earlier approved the resumption of operations of some traditional public utility jeepneys in Cebu City.
The approval was made upon the recommendation of the Cebu City Jeepney Task Force, which was formed for the Balik-Pasada Program, and to solve the growing demand for public transportation with the strict observance of the minimum health protocol.
Before plying the streets of the city, traditional jeepney drivers should secure a professional driver’s license, a negative COVID-19 test result, and undergo the Cebu City Transportation Office’s orientation and training.
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