By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday said local government units (LGUs) should be given more autonomy in procuring testing kits or in setting up testing facilities to expedite the detection of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) positive cases in every community and household and help flatten the curve immediately.
With the incidence of new COVID-19 cases growing by the day, Gatchalian said LGUs should be capacitated so they can lead to a successful fight against COVID-19.
Gatchalian emphasized that Test, Quarantine, and Treatment (TQT) are the steps that LGUs should take to better address the COVID-19 crisis.
“Naniniwala ako na ang pinakamabisang paraan para labanan ang virus ay dapat mag-umpisa sa local level (I truly believe that the best way to fight the virus is to start at the local level),” Gatchalian said.
“Wag na nating paabutin ito sa ospital dahil marami ang mga pasyente at hindi na kakayanin ng ating mga ospital (We can keep it from reaching the hospital because they are now overwhelmed with patients ),” Gatchalian said.
Citing Valenzuela’s move, the senator pointed out that the city entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with The Medical City to conduct its localized mass testing last April 11 and 13.
In its agreement with the hospital, the TMC processes the tests and reserves 25 tests per day for Valenzuela City, which can be expanded to 50 depending on a first-come-first-served basis or if the hospital does not have too much to process in a day. Authorities will identify persons who need to be quarantined or isolated based on the results.
According to Gatchalian, Valenzuela conducted targeted mass testing of those who are already sick or suspected of COVID-19, members of their household, their relatives, and even their neighbors.
“Dahil nakita namin na nagkakaroon ng hawaan sa loob pa lang ng bahay hanggang sa kumalat na sa komunidad. Kapag natest agad at nag quarantine ang taong may sakit, sa bahay pa lang hindi na kakalat at hindi na rin aabot sa komunidad, (One can easily catch it within their homes until it spreads further in the community. Once a person is tested and undergoes quarantine, the virus won’t spread out from the house and it won’t reach the community),” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian said LGUs should innovate to save their own constituents from the onslaught of the virus. But at this point, he added, LGUs should already be procuring their own testing kits.
He also said LGUs should already be tapping additional sources of funding that they can use in their COVID-19 response, including their 20 percent development fund.