By Mario Casayuran
Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) called for organized, systematic mass testing to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Gordon, also chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said large events places, such as the Mall of Asia, Araneta Coliseum and other similar venues that could hold large crowds, could serve as swabbing sites for the mass testing to ensure that physical distancing would be strictly observed.
“The people can be seated on the bleachers, with people seated on the lower bleachers swabbed first, tapos pag natapos sila, bababa naman ‘yung nasa susunod. The PRC has pulled out all the steps para makapag-test, kailangan mabilis tayo kasi testing is the key. We have to ensure victory over the virus,” he said. (..after it is finished, the one following the person already swabbed takes over. The PRC has pulled out all the stops for testing. Fast testing is the key.)
Results will be forwarded to the Department of Health (DOH) which will be responsible for conveying the result to the patients. DOH must keep an accurate, centralized tally of cases, Gordon said.
Gordon said members of marginalized groups who tested positive must be provided with appropriate care. They will be sent to the quarantine centers and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) must provide their families their essential needs such as food, hygiene items and medication, especially if those who tested positive are bread winners.
“The PRC, the DOH and local government units (LGUs) must closely monitor the health status of the members of the household, in case any of them also develop any symptom of the disease. They may also call PRC Hotline 1158 for free counseling and psycho social support,” he said.
Meanwhile, the PRC chairman commended the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the volunteer swabbers and all health workers who are dedicating their time and skills in fighting the pandemic.
Gordon congratulated the members of the Philippine Coast Guard who go up the ships moored at the ports to swab seafarers.
“We must spend a lot to ensure the safety of our health workers and frontliners. All health workers must be tested every 14 days. All hospitals may contact the PRC for testing, provided that terms will be followed. Personal protective equipment (PPE) must also be maximized and properly allocated due to the scarcity of stocks,” he added.