DoH asked to speed up testing kits distribution

Friday asked the Department of Health (DoH) to expedite the distribution of World Health Organization’s (WHO) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing kits to concerned laboratories to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“I would like to call on the DoH leadership to facilitate the fast and efficient distribution of WHO’s PCR testing kits from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to our subnational testing laboratories as soon as possible,” said House senior Deputy Minority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Loreto-Garin, a former Health secretary, regarding the COVID-19 testing kits.

She said faster “distribution of the testing kits will decongest and deload RITM greatly kaya sana ay ma-distribute na ito upang mas maaga natin maprotektahan ang iba pa nating kababayan mula sa SARS-CoV2.”

“Ano pa ba ang hinihintay natin? Kailangan din natin i-prepara sa COVID-19 ang ibang lugar sa Pilipinas,” Garin stressed.

Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to immediately issue guidelines for private sector workers to be affected by the government-imposed community quarantine.

“Our employees in the private sector are anxious about what will happen to them in case there are at least two coronavirus disease or COVID-19 cases in their barangay and their entire community is placed on lockdown. They will be restricted to their homes and will not be allowed to go to work,” said Castelo.

Castelo, who is vice chairperson of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said those particularly concerned are minimum wage workers who are mostly paid on a daily basis.

“They don’t receive pay if they don’t work. What will happen to them in the event their community is quarantined?” Castelo asked.

She urged the government and the private sector to join hands in helping these workers.

“Their employers could pay their daily wage for a certain number of days during the lockdown, while the government, through the DoLE and other agencies, could take care of the rest to tide the employees over this difficult time,” Castelo said.

She said aside from DOLE, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units have funds to assist distressed workers.

“We have to work as one in combatting this coronavirus scourge and in helping our affected people,” she stressed.

At the same time, Garin explained that RITM is the National Reference Laboratory for emerging infectious diseases and has in its custody the “WHO testing kits for COVID-19 which need to be distributed now to the designated subnational laboratories to better equip them for the disease.”

She said the country’s subnational laboratories are Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, Baguio General Hospital & Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines and UP-NIH under Dr. Salvana. The medical technologists of these laboratories have been trained at RITM weeks ago

“Historical account will show that in every outbreak, medical technologists are immediately trained/ updated by RITM and immediately upon completion, they carry with them the testing kits para sabak agad sa trabaho. Now, our medical technologists have been trained but the kits have not yet been distributed,” said Garin.

“Once na maipamahagi na ang testing kits, the other centers in different parts of the country can then determine if a person is positive or negative for COVID-19. Yung mga specimen naman na nag positive ay pwede na ipadala sa RITM for confirmation kung positive nga talaga,” Garin added.