By Freddie Lazaro
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte – The provincial government of Ilocos Norte has started its initial testing of medical and non-medical frontliners, and persons under quarantine (PUQs) using rapid test kits to intensify its intervention on detecting potential carriers of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
According to Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc, the provincial government has procured 1,000 rapid test kits for the first batch of testing.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go donated some 300 test kits as well.
“I think we used roughly half of our thousand [test kits] in about a week,” Manotoc disclosed in a press briefing.
He likewise answered the appeal of the public to test “everyone,” saying: “Our targeted testing is more prudent. Currently, we don’t have confirmed cases and test kits are not cheap. It is not practical if we start to test everyone.
“Our approach is to test those who are potentially exposed— frontliners, healthcare workers, personnel at the borders, those in constant contact with APOR (Authorized Persons Outside of Residence).”
However, the provincial government has also pledged to meet the minimum number of individuals required to undergo mass testing in a given population.
To ensure that PUQs will be safe before they go back to their families and the community, they will undergo repeat rapid testing after completing the 14-day mandatory quarantine.
At present, Ilocos Norte is taking the vital steps required in opening its own COVID-19 testing laboratory. PCR machines and other COVID-related machines are still in the process of being operationalized, medical personnel are undergoing training, and the laboratory is still subject to the Department of Health’s accreditation.
In almost two months, Ilocos Norte has not recorded any additional COVID-19 cases since the province announced its first two confirmed patients on March 31.