By Dhel Nazario
Taguig City has started implementing its barangay-based and drive-thru testing on Wednesday under its Systematic Mass Approach to Responsible Testing (SMART) which is expected to increase its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing.
“Many experts have seen increased COVID-19 testing as an effective tool to decrease transmissions and more effectively treat those who are infected. We are heeding their suggestions,” said Mayor Lino Cayetano.
He said that since the beginning of March, SMART has tested nearly 1,000 individuals through a COVID-19 on-call service where mobile teams of health workers will collect swabs from possible COVID-19 patients in their homes.
Supplementing the work of the teams in the on-call approach, Taguig will train personnel in its 31 health centers and three “Super Health Centers” to conduct COVID-19 testing in the barangays where they operate.
Those who find the health centers inaccessible but have personal vehicles at their disposal may opt for the drive-thru testing. The service will be available in temporary testing facilities in Bonifacio Global City, particularly in Brgy. Fort Bonifacio and Taguig Lakeshore in Brgy. Lower Bicutan.
“Moreover, at the end of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), we will have capacitated more of our health workers to safely handle possible cases and lead the process of testing,” Cayetano added. “The new skill will immensely help us in the foreseeable future where COVID-19 is a notifiable disease, or a disease that should be immediately reported and managed,” he said.
With the new components, SMART will now expand testing to cover recovering COVID-19 patients, persons exhibiting flu-like symptoms, frontline workers, people who may have interacted with confirmed cases, and vulnerable demographics like pregnant women, elderly individuals, and persons with co-morbidities.
In handling the volume of samples for COVID-19 testing, the city added new partner laboratories to its existing agreement with the Department of Health and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. It recently forged new partnerships with St. Luke’s Medical Center in BGC and the Philippine Red Cross.
Caytano said Taguig has worked closely with the national government in its effort to find, isolate, test, and cure COVID-19 infections.
Apart from testing, the city government has reorganized itself and continues the enforcement of a community quarantine, containment, contact tracing, and disinfection as part of the holistic approach.
“We have strictly implemented the guidelines of the ECQ, complemented that effort with the provision of relief, other forms of assistanc,e and continued social services. On top of these, we have increased our capacity for treatment and quarantine,” Cayetano said.
Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is expected to visit the facilities on Wednesday.