De Lima: Probe current Covid-19 diagnostic testing amid new variants
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima has sought a Senate inquiry into the country’s Covid-19 diagnostic testing rules and capabilities in the wake of the rapidly evolving SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes the potentially fatal respiratory illness.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 612, De Lima stressed the need to evaluate and assess the country’s current diagnostic testing protocols as an inquiry would determine if prevailing systems must be recalibrated or enhanced amid the emergence of new Covid-19 variants worldwide.
“There is a need to conduct a Senate inquiry into these matters to ensure that our testing capabilities and results are reliable and up to date in order to preserve the health and safety of the general public and ensure that the health protocols in place are still effective and responsive,” De Lima said in a statement Wednesday.
“It is better to be proactive than reactive given the uncertainty and imminent threats of these recent developments,” she added.
In her resolution, De Lima cited Dr. John Wong of health research institution Epimetrics Inc., who earlier said that the Covid-19 variant detected in the United Kingdom “has the dangerous potential of increasing active cases in the Philippines by 15-fold or around 300,000 at the end of this month.”
Different and more infectious variants have also been discovered in Malaysia and South Africa, De Lima noted.
On January 13, the Philippines reported its first case of the UK variant detected from a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 7.
De Lima said the government must prepare in order to be ahead of the situation before it becomes too late.
Further, she emphasized the importance of heeding the opinions of scientific and medical experts who have been warning that the virus can mutate over time.
“In recognizing this inevitable event, the State must be ready in combating new strains that are already here and could arise in the future to avoid further exacerbating our medical frontliners who have been making the ultimate sacrifice in stemming the spread of the virus,” the senator said.
Moreover, De Lima said the upcoming rollout of the government’s mass vaccination drive should not weaken the state’s approach to other factors that help mitigate the spread of the virus.
“While investigations and studies are ongoing to clarify the extent of these possible implications, the State must continue to ensure that our testing capabilities are regularly assessed and recalibrated to respond to the times,” she added.
“It is also prudent to inform the public, through a Senate inquiry, how the DOH and Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is preparing our health system in the eventuality that new and potentially more infectious variants of Covid-19 are detected in the country and further transmission occurs,” she also said.
The Senate has so far conducted two hearings on the government’s inoculation program and is set to hold its third public inquiry this Friday, January 22. Zac Sarao, Trainee
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