Mandatory rapid test for tri-city workers not recommended yet
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Mandatory coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) rapid test for workers in Cebu’s three largest cities is not yet recommended.
The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH – 7) made this suggestion in a statement released to members of the media on Sunday, May 17.
“Mandatory testing of all employees in the cities of Mandaue, Cebu, and Lapu-Lapu was considered in the initial direction of the PBB (Project Balik Buhay) but has not been officially recommended by DOH – 7,” Director Jaime Bernadas stated.
Project Balik Buhay, abbreviated as PBB, is the name for the ‘strategized rapid mass testing’ being conducted in the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, and Mandaue. It commenced last May 6.
Bernadas said that with the absence of data and analysis, their office would not recommend rapid tests as a requirement for employees before reporting back to work.
“This is because the strategic community-based mass testing has been extended until May 20, 2020. The results of which are yet to be analyzed and interpreted by our pathologist and epidemiologist in order to come up with scientific, evidence-based, and data-driven recommendations,” said Bernadas.
As of May 15, health experts are yet to collect a total of 14,027 blood samples from residents in Cebu’s three largest cities. These individuals are among the more than 39,600 identified to be part of PBB’s sampling population.
“Unless and until we have the results of the strategized community mass testing and the same have been analyzed by our local experts, no final recommendation from this office may be had that would stand as basis for our local leaders to decide and formulate policies in furtherance of the new normal that this pandemic has so irreverently imposed on us,” Bernadas said.
In the event that recommendation for mandatory rapid testing for workers is made, DOH – 7’s top official said it should be based on the number of COVID-19 cases in the community.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for Management on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) declared the cities of Cebu and Mandaue should remain under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until May 31.
Other areas in Cebu, including Lapu-Lapu City, are expected to transition to general community quarantine (GCQ).
Bernadas also said rapid tests for employees should be made voluntarily, not mandatory, in places under general community quarantine (GCQ).
PBB was formulated in the hopes that local governments in Cebu would relax their quarantine protocols, and welcome the ‘new normal’.
The use of rapid COVID-19 tests is being utilized to ‘map out the virus’ prevalence’ in areas amid huge scrutiny from several public officials and the citizens. / dbs
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