By Jel Santos
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has reiterated the need for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing in the country, following the pronouncement of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the dreaded disease could become endemic or regularly found and very common among a particular group or area, just like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Until a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, PRC chairman Richard Gordon said unmasking the virus through testing would help control, if not prevent, the further spread of the disease, which could be fatal for people who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions, among other aggravating factors.
“As the WHO official said, this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away, so we have to have very significant control of the virus. Kaya kailangan na we (so we need to) unmask the virus so that we can isolate and conduct contact-tracing to be able to control its spread,” said Gordon.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country, Gordon has been stressing the necessity of conducting testing.
PRC has opened two testing centers that are both equipped with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines that can run up to a total of 8,000 tests a day.
PRC said their testing capacity would expand to 20,000, with the opening of another testing center in Port Area, Manila this week and four others in Subic, Clark, Batangas and Los Banos in the next few weeks.
Last Tuesday, Red Cross said they conducted a total of 4,200 tests, with many local governments partnering with the humanitarian organization to conduct testing in their respective cities.
“Kung maraming magpapa-test, mahihiwalay ‘yung mga positive at malalagay sila sa mga ospital o sa mga quarantine centers. Makakapagsagawa din tayo ng contact tracing para mapigilan ang lalong pagkalat ng sakit na ito. Our aim is to ensure victory over the virus (If many get tested, we can isolate the positive ones and we can admit them to hospital[s or to quarantine centers. We can also facilitate contact tracing to stop the spread of the disease. Our aim is to ensure victory over the virus),” the PRC chairman said.
Based on the data of the Department of Health (DOH), there are now 11, 876 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country as of 4 p.m. of May 14.
Most of the COVID-19 cases are from the National Capital Region, the DOH noted.