Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday welcomed the government’s plan to start mass testing as part of its efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.
“Mass testing will save lives. By moving towards mass testing for COVID-19, we now have a better chance of defeating COVID-19 and of protecting the lives of countless Filipinos,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
Hontiveros said she is glad that the government has listened to the demands of the public and finally acted on this much-needed initiative.
“Matagal nang kailangan ito, at sana ay agad itong maipatupad para masiguro natin ang kalusugan ng lahat,” she said.
The senator made the remark after Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the government’s national action plan on the COVID-19 pandemic, disclosed that the government will begin mass testing starting April 14.
According to Galvez, nine hospitals have already been accredited to conduct the tests, with others to come on board.
The government’s pronouncement was made after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that they have received 108,000 testing kits from South Korea, China, and Singapore.
Hontiveros said the government should speed up the acquisition and distribution of testing kits, and invest in increasing the country’s capacity to locally produce testing kits, citing the kits developed by scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP) as “promising examples.”
“We need to urgently expand the number of Filipinos tested for COVID-19 every day, with priority testing provided for front liners such as health workers, those considered at-risk such as the elderly and the immune-compromised, and those exhibiting symptoms,” she said.
“This is the only way we will be able to track and isolate cases, and respond in timely fashion to the treatment and care of patients.”
She also said the government should improve the capacity of testing centers by coordinating a network of hospital-based and stand-alone laboratories to help speed up and increase the number of tests conducted daily.
She also reiterated that testing should be free or fully covered by PhilHealth.
“We have to do everything we can to make mass testing of Filipinos a reality at the earliest time possible,” Hontiveros said.
“Early detection of COVID-19 cases allows us not only to stop the spread of the virus, but also bring lifesaving treatment to those who need it. Tandaan natin, buhay ng mga kababayan natin ang nakataya dito.”