QC starts community-based testing for COVID-19 with 150 residents

By Chito Chavez

Some 150 Quezon City residents from various barangays will initially be tested for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on April 13 at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

Project director Joseph Juico said those included in the pilot mass testing for COVID-19 have been recommended by the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) in coordination with the barangays.

“These people are identified by the district health officers and are suspected COVID-19 persons with symptoms.

He added that the community-based COVID-19 testing will start at 8 a.m. where “the 150 persons will be divided into four batches.’’

Juico said the city government will provide one vehicle for each patient to ensure social distancing.

“The community-based testing is crucial as this would help calibrate our efforts in combating the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Mayor Joy Belmonte, adding that the move would also help flatten the curve.

Dr. Rolando Cruz, head of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of QCHD, said samples will be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for testing.

The results are expected to be released in three to five days.

Cruz explained that the patients who will yield negative results will be allowed to go home but still required to undergo self-quarantine for 14 days.

“If a patient is tested positive, he or she will be automatically referred to Hope 2 under the care of health practitioners equipped to deal with mild symptoms,” said Cruz, referring to one of the city’s various facilities for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients.

He said that swab booths will be used during the testing to lessen health workers’ exposure to possible COVID-19 patients and to minimize the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Cruz added that the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) will provide 1,500 additional testing and extraction kits in the coming days.

The Quezon City government is also in the process of procuring 10,000 swabs and universal transport media (UTM) kits.

“Partnerships with St. Luke’s and Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) are being finalized for faster release of test results,’’ a statement from the city government stated.

“We are actively talking with other hospitals that are now accredited or soon to be accredited for the use of their laboratories,” Cruz said.

Belmonte noted the city government is coordinating with the national government for the use of the Ninoy Aquino Stadium or the Quezon Institute as alternative quarantine sites in case the city’s HOPE facilities reach full capacity.

The QCHD has also called on the residents of the city’s gated communities and members of the homeowners associations to assist the city government in initiating tests to identify suspected COVID-19 positive patients in their neighborhoods.

“Citizens of QC should cooperate and be one with the community-based testing so that we can properly document, treat, and assist all COVID-19 positive patients,” concluded Juico.