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Mass testing for COVID-19 in Cebu City to roll out soon

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Reporter/CDN Digital | April 13,2020 - 05:09 PM
Samples for COVID-19 tests | INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO

Samples for COVID-19 tests | INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Mass testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Cebu City will begin soon.

This developed after the Cebu City government dispatched a total of 20,000 swab test kits to the City Health Department (CHD) and the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) on Monday, April 13, 2020.

Eighteen thousand were allocated to CDH while the remaining 2,000 to the CCMC.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella also said they had donated 10,000 additional test kits to the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7).

“With this, we will be able to start massive testing of COVID-19 here in the city. Of course, in a manner that’s approved by the World Health Organization, the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) and the DOH,” said Labella in a press conference on Monday.

Labella also said that with the bulk of test kits they had acquired, they would be targeting to do 500 tests per day for the city.

Cebu City has a total of 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the highest among all areas in Central Visayas. They also reported five deaths and 15 recoveries as of April 11, 2020.

Massive Testing

The national government, as well as several local governments in Luzon, are also taking steps for a full-scale implementation of mass COVID-19 testing.

There are over 60 hospitals and laboratories in the country being considered to carry out coronavirus tests, three of which are found in Central Visayas.

Presently, only the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) is classified as a sub-national level laboratory, which is qualified to do COVID-19 tests for Central Visayas. Data from DOH show the VSMMC has the capacity to tests an estimated 240 samples per day.

In a separate phone interview with CDN Digital, Dr. Daisy Villa, City Health Office chief, said they were ironing out specific protocols and guidelines on how to conduct the mass testing here.

Villa said presently, they would be conducting ’selective testing’ only due to the limited test kits.

“With massive testing, we will no longer be doing selective testing, and we can accommodate more in an area where there is a confirmed case,” said Villa in Cebuano.

She added that in selective testing, the CHD would be constrained to do tests only to people who had been exposed to the virus to ‘the second degree.’

People exposed to COVID-19 in the second-degree would refer to those who had come in contact with the close contacts of infected patients.

Villa also said with mass testing soon to be implemented, they would be able to expand their surveillance.

“All of these samples will then be sent to VSMMC,” she added.

It can be recalled that the city government in March decided to purchase three polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines, and 20,000 test kits to expedite COVID-19 tests not only for the city but also in Cebu province and Central Visayas since VSMMC caters to the entire region.

PCR machines are needed to detect the presence of COVID-19 in a patient’s specimen./dbs

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