With all humility, I apologize to those who may have been inconvenienced by the traffic caused by the unexpected surge of motorists who availed of the free, drive-thru COVID testing that we launched in Manila last July 15.
The success of this project and the enthusiasm showed by the public, from Manila and outside of Manila, inspired us to do better and work on accommodating more.
After coordinating with the National Parks Development Committee, I am happy to announce that more and similar drive-thru centers offering free COVID testing will soon be set up in a more spacious area, specifically at the Independence Road fronting the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.
Hopefully, this will accommodate hundreds more and decongest traffic in front of the Bonifacio Shrine where our first drive-thru center had been set up.
In Luneta, we will be able to have separate lanes for four-wheeled and two-wheeled vehicles and those that are non-motorized like “kuligligs” and pedicabs.
How does the system work? Any interested motorist may just go to the drive-thru center, present a valid identification card, preferably a government ID and fill out a form, making sure he provides nothing but truthful information and puts his contact details correctly.
Once done with this, a medical personnel will approach the motorist and then collect a blood sample. The entire process is over in a little less than five minutes.
Within a 24-hour period, the results will be known and the motorist will be informed via the contact details he had given. Everything will be kept in utmost confidentiality. If he turns negative, well and good. However, if he is found positive, a medical professional will get in touch with him and advise him on the next steps that he should take.
This drive-thru test of ours, mind you, is not like the ordinary rapid tests that yield results called, “false positive” or “false negative.” What is being used in the said center is our newly procured machine called “Architect plus i1000 SR” made by Abbott Laboratories.
It offers 99.6 percent specificity and 100 percent sensitivity, thus doing away with the “false negative” and “false positive” results that usually accompany the use of rapid test kits. In short, it has a reliability like that of a polymerase chain reaction or PCR machines, which is currently being used for confirmatory testing of those who test positive in the rapid test kits.
The rationale behind our decision to open the drive-thru COVID-19 tests even to non-Manilans and non-motorized vehicles is to make the free service accessible to all who need it.
The pandemic is a universal problem. Local government unit heads should be helping one another toward a single direction since our areas of jurisdiction are interconnected, after all. We also want to be inclusive in our approach and if other cities or towns will benefit from us, why not?
We merely want those living, working, passing by, or doing business in Manila to feel a certain sense of confidence that they are safe and healthy, at the same time to be responsible toward others by making sure they are not carrying the virus and may be transmitting it unknowingly.
These free drive-thru tests are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, and are being done by experts in the medical field.
Those who may seek to be tested are persons who have had exposure to COVID carriers either in their workplace, community, or homes; those manifesting flu-like symptoms specially losing one’s sense of taste, and those who simply want “peace of mind” or have been suffering from COVID anxiety or fatigue.
That many are suffering from paranoia is a known fact. As can be gleaned from our records, out of the 235 motorists who availed of the free test during its launch, a total of 209, or a clear majority, cited “peace of mind” as the reason they were submitting themselves to the test. By the way, 34 tested positive.
The sharp rise in the number of motorists that availed of the free test when we opened it to non-Manilans is a clear indication that so many people would really want to undergo testing but simply do not have the money or are afraid to go to the hospitals, many of which have become full to the brim with COVID patients.
In Manila, our numerous quarantine facilities and city hospitals are also facing the same kind of problem. This is why I constantly and repeatedly appeal to our residents to observe basic anti-COVID protocols like wearing face masks all the time, frequently washing or sanitizing one’s hands, observing proper physical distancing, and most of all, staying home as much as possible. Public cooperation is still the key to our success in fighting the dreaded virus.
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Gaya ng paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang magmamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ding mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first!
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For updates on latest developments in the city of Manila, please visit my Facebook account — ‘Isko Moreno Domagoso.’