FOUR months after the Department of Health (DOH) reported the country’s first case of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and with the continuous increase of number of positive cases, Philippine Red Cross chairman and CEO Sen. Richard J. Gordon urged the government to set a clear policy on containing COVID-19 and reiterated the need for a massive testing in the fight to flatten the curve.
“I have consistently declared that the best way to fight the virus is to unmask it, to expose the virus as it hides in our people. Exposing the virus means testing the population to find out those who are positive, isolate them, do contact tracing, provide medical treatment and take care of the other family members,” said Gordon.
Gordon pointed out that the World Health Organization (WHO) has been recommending to test at least 13% of the country’s total population or 1.6 million individuals.
In support of this target, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which Gordon heads, has invested in test facilities that currently has a capacity of 12,000 tests per day. When more of the PRC’s molecular laboratories start to operate, the daily testing capacity will increase to 22,000.
Since April 14, the PRC has tested over 90,000 individuals but according to Gordon, only 25% of the tests were for Metro Manila local government units (LGU).
“This is not good for our country. The government should make up its mind on this matter and the DOH and PhilHealth must get their act together on testing everybody. It seems deplorable that a very minor percentage of the Metro Manila population has been tested. At the same time, the number of people getting infected and worse, succumbing to the virus, keep increasing,” Gordon said.
“We recommend that the IATF set a definitive goal for testing in Metro Manila and coordinate with the Department of Interior and Local Government as well as with the Metro Manila Development Authority to ensure implementation of this target,” he added.