A number of Cavite mayors are increasingly using a localized and granular approach to lockdowns in their respective localities in tandem with targeted testing to help contain COVID-19 infection in local clusters.
City Mayors Lani Mercado-Revilla of Bacoor, Antonio Ferrer of General Trias, Emmanuel Maliksi of Imus, and representatives from other partner cities shared this in a virtual presser.
“Bringing innovation into testing is very important for us because this is the only weapon we have to create visibility. By creating visibility, then we know what areas or barangays to lockdown and that’s very important. I believe our mayors are the most capable people in determining where to lockdown,” said Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion.
He also underscored the challenges in trying to achieve a balance between public health and the economy.
“What is important is we have to save both. It is not a choice of either but it is saving lives, jobs, and livelihoods. Saving all three to the best we can. My focus is on a granular lockdown and avoid [broad] locking down which disrupts the economy much more. Massive targeted testing plus a granular approach is the best way forward,” Concepcion stressed.
“Karamihan po ng mga cases ay empleyado mula sa NCR [National Capital Region]. Nakakalungkot na may transmission kami locally so ni-lockdown ang Zapote 1 Barangay Hall of Justice at temporarily close ang aming public market para mapigilan ang local transmission (Most cases come from employees working in NCR. It saddens us that we have local transmissions, prompting us to lockdown ang Zapote 1 Barangay Hall of Justice and temporarily shut down our public market to stop the transmission)… We agree on the usage of both [RTKs and RT-PCR]. We will continue to use both just to monitor and help us isolate, treat, and do minimum lockdowns” said Mayor Lani.
In the partial results of the City of Bacoor, a total of 2,133 individuals were tested. Of this number, 17 tested asymptomatic IgM positive, 20 were asymptomatic IgG positive which means they had the virus but were able to recover and build antibodies, three were asymptomatic IgG/IgM, while 2,087 were asymptomatic negative.
One tested symptomatic IgM positive, four tested symptomatic IgG/IgM, and one symptomatic negative.
ARK Medical Team Lead Dra. Minguita Padilla emphasized the importance of quality, high-specificity rapid test kits (RTKs) in creating a level of visibility against the virus.
She cautioned that RTKs should be used in compliance with strict medical protocols along with knowledge of its limitations.
“As medical head, I have access to a lot of data from companies. As long as the company structured the medical protocols, RTKs have helped them open and stay open. Like any weapon, the key is to use it properly,” she said.
“At the beginning, there was nothing so we used RTKs but [they should be used] always in strategic combination with RT-PCR when necessary and always following DOH guidelines. [Our] knowledge about the virus has evolved and is continuing to evolve. What we know today is different from what we know tomorrow. That’s the nature of medicine. There’s no absolute. We started with RTKs, we have RT-PCR, now we’re going to pooled PCR then perhaps there’s also rapid antigen testing. We have to keep our minds open and make the most of what we have – technology-wise.”
The local chief executives echoed the statement, affirming the validity of RTKs in supporting their surveillance efforts, augmenting limited testing capacity, and guiding the implementation of localized lockdown, when necessary.
In General Trias, a total of 856 individuals were tested. Of this partial number, seven tested asymptomatic IgM positive, 2 were asymptomatic IgG positive, 840 asymptomatic negative, and two symptomatic negatives.
Mayor Ferrer expressed gratitude for the RTKs donated by Project ARK which they used to promptly test their medical frontliners and barangay personnel.
“By making these [rapid] test kits available, we were able to address the need and obtain information that can guide us to our way forward. Testing
helps us to identify probable areas that we need to strengthen protection, especially for our people and where and how to rally our resources to respond appropriately. Rapid testing keeps the morale of your workers up,” he said.
“We welcome pooled testing whenever it becomes available. For pooled testing, mas mapapabilis at any given time kasi mas madami yung ma-test. Kung ma-detect man sa isang pool, okay lang i-test lahat individually (Pooled testing expedites the process as more can be tested at any given time. If it’s detected in a pool test, the test can be done individually). Kung walang positive (If no one test positive), it saves time and mas (is more) economical.”
Meanwhile, the partial results of 175 tests conducted in Dasmariñas all
“Nakakalungkot na (It saddens us that) 90-95% of our cases actually come from [individuals that work in] Metro Manila but have to come back [to their respective provinces] for isolation. Mayroong (There are) situations where we have had local transmission pero we’re trying to control it. In fact, nagkakaroon na kami ng mga (we had had) localized lockdown in the past month,” said Red Alano, tourism representative who was speaking on behalf of the city mayor.
For Imus, a total of 1,315 individuals were tested. Of this number, only two tested asymptomatic IgM positive while 1,313 asymptomatic individuals
Mayor Maliksi said that they used nearly all of the 3,500 RTKs turned over by Project ARK to screen workers at two public health markets. Like his fellow mayors, Maliksi highlighted the importance of RTKs due to its affordability and ability to offer a good insight into infection levels as long as confirmatory tests were done through swab tests.
“Kahit kami na may sariling molecular lab, we push na gamitin pa rin ang rapid test kasi mas affordable yun sa tao. Pag naibababa yung cost ng tests, mas magiging maganda yung surveillance natin. Kaya maganda yung pag-aaral on pooled testing na malaking tulong sa mga LGUs tulad naming (Even if we have a molecular lab, we pushed for the use of rapid test as it is more affordable. If we lower the cost, our surveillance will improve. So trying the pooled testing is a big help for LGUs like us),” he said.
Concepcion also shared that Go Negosyo, together with the Philippine
Society of Pathologists, Inc., Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and partner laboratories, will formally announce the results of the Pooled Testing Research on August 17. The study results will be applied in the implementation of Pooled Testing in NCR, particularly the size of the pool per location and/or area. Once approved, this strategy can be immediately implemented throughout NCR and progressively rolled out to all participating companies across the country.
Present in the virtual presser were ARK LGU Lead Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, Barangay Pilot Donor and Branding Adviser George Royeca, Trece Martires Lead MD Dra. Lorelie Escario, and rapid test kit donors William Belo, founding chairman of Wilcon Depot; Emma Imperial, president and CEO of Imperial Homes Corporation; Brian Cu, president of Grab Philippines; Chris Guidotti, VP for Admin/Safety of LBC Express; Irene Labitad, assistant executive director of GT Foundation, Inc.; Reinaldo Bautista Jr., president of Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc.; and Christine De La Cruz, Contributions and Sustainability head of PMFTCI.