Bacolod, Negros Occ. set for 4-day lockdown, mass testing

BACOLOD CITY - A “timeout weekend” from August 28 to 31 to conduct mass testing of symptomatic individuals amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been proposed for the province of Negros Occidental and the city of Bacolod.

The idea was proposed by former 3rd district congressman Alfredo Benitez, economic consultant of the province, to address the increase of COVID-19 cases in the locality.

Benitez said the provincial government was eyeing to test 10,000 individuals during the four-day lockdown.

A Special Task Force will be created to facilitate the mass testing of 10,000 symptomatic patients and their close contacts in the cities of Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, and Bago, and the municipality of Murcia for four days this weekend. 

All five COVID-19 laboratories here and in the province will be used to speed up the processing of swab specimens so the results couls be released in 24 hours.

Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests are scheduled on August 28 to 29 in Bacolod, with estimated 5,000 patients. The remaining 5,000 patients will have their swab tests on August 30 to 31.

“There will be no movement at all. There will be a lockdown for four days, while we test everybody,” Benitez said.

“At the rate it is going, we don’t want to be the next Cebu. We don’t want that to happen,” he added.

Through this, Benitez believes that the spread of the virus could be prevented. He also stressed the need to intensify contact tracing efforts.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia and Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson are expected to issue their respective executive orders to implement the said mass testing.

As of August 21, the province now has 896 confirmed cases and seven deaths, while Bacolod has 651 cases and 17 deaths.