Gatchalian: 10,000 mass tests a day needed to determine ECQ's effectiveness

Published April 13, 2020, 5:39 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday urged the government to conduct at least 10,000 mass testings a day in order to determine the success of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) extension.

Gatchalian said this will also help identify and isolate those suspected cases of COVID-19 and treat confirmed cases nationwide.

“If that does not happen, and we lift the ECQ to open the economy, there might be potential COVID-19 cases who could spread the virus and will defeat the purpose of an extended quarantine,” Gatchalian said.

Then, the next question, would be “do we extend it again or not?” Gatchalian said.

“Kung hindi natin magagawa ang 10,000 mass testings a day at hindi natin mahahanap ang mga suspected, probable at confirmed cases ng COVID-19, sigurado pong kakalat uli ang virus sa buong bansa (If we can’t conduct 10,000 mass testings a day and we can’t locate those who are suspected, probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19, I’m very sure the virus will once again spread across the country),” he pointed out.

“Halimbawa, kung pinayagan na natin uling magbukas ang ating ekonomiya, payagan nang mamasada ang mga bus, jeepney o kaya’y MRT. Kapag ganyan ang naging sitwasyon, meron at merong potensiyal na mga kaso ng COVID-19 (For instance, if we allow our economy to reopen, allow buses, jeepneys or the MRT to operate again, if that would be the situation, there would still be potential cases of COVID-19,” stressed Gatchalian.

Gatchalian pointed out that almost 50 percent of those who are positive for COVID are asymptomatic, and allowing these asymptomatic COVID-19 patients to roam around would surely put senior citizens at greater risk of infection.

“Duon tayo magkakaroon ng problema dahil almost 80 percent ng mga senior citizen ay nagkakaroon ng fatalities. (This is where we will have a problem because almost 80 percent of the senior citizens are fatalities),” he added.

The senator said the challenge in the next two weeks is how the national government can ramp up the volume of mass testing all the way up to 10,000 tests a day, which is “a very important milestone.”

He also renewed his call for the Department of Health (DOH) to expedite accrediting hospitals for mass testings so that the existing accredited hospitals won’t be overburdened with large number of patients.

According to the lawmaker, the problem now lies, not with testing kits anymore, but with the limited number of accredited hospitals that will process the tests.

Gatchalian, likewise, reiterated the need for the government to capacitate local government units (LGUs) and provide them with proper guidelines as beating the novel coronavirus starts at the local level.

He said it is imperative that health authorities test and immediately contain COVID-19 positive patients at the house level or street level.

“This will prevent the spread of the virus in the communities. If the spread is contained, it is only then that we can open the economy,” he said.