What’s A4, LGU, RT-PCR, BHERT: Acronyms in the time of COVID 

Published May 11, 2021, 12:10 AM

by Pinky Concha-Colmenares


Pinky Concha Colmenares

Does your mind turn to the size of a bond paper when A4 is mentioned?  Or to the category of the people now being registered for the next group to be vaccinated by the LGUs?

Do you know what LGU means; it’s often mentioned in a conversation related to registering for vaccination.

Well, this is the new world with new acronyms, so learn fast or you’ll miss the important information that comes with these letters of the alphabet.

The ABC of vaccination priority

First, A4 does not refer to the size of a bond paper (only if you are in a bookstore perhaps), it means the category of people who are now being invited to enlist for vaccination.  A4 refers to “frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel” (DOH website).

The A4 list naturally comes after the A1, A2 and A3 lists — A1 for the medical frontliners, A2 for the seniors, and A3 for people with comorbilities.

LGU, by the way, stands for local government unit, a very important part of the vaccination program.  Check your LGU’s website for updates, and instructions on how to register for your shot.

After A4, the next category will be A5, the indigent population (DOH website).

Then comes the B category.  B1 are teachers and social workers; B2 are other government workers; B3 are “other essential workers; B4 are socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and poor population.”

The last group is C, which is the rest of the Filipino population not included in the other groups.


Have you been required to take a COVID-19 test to determine the cause of a cold and fever, or after arrival in your home province? The test required nowadays is the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction), the gold standard in laboratory technique for detecting SARS-CoV-2.  The other type of test is the antigen test which is cheaper and gives results faster, but this is not considered very reliable.  Thus, if one tests positive in the antigen test, he or she is requested to take the RT-PCR test to check the results.

The RT-PCR test is now done two ways: saliva-based or through nasopharyngeal swab.


Why does the acronym SARS-CoV-2 come into the conversation about tests?  SARS-CoV-2 is the official name of the virus formerly called “novel coronavirus 2019.”  It causes the disease called COVID-19. In late 2019, after the outbreak of the illness in China, the new coronavirus was named 2019-nCoV.


The now familiar acronym COVID-19 is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) official name for the coronavirus disease 2019 the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.


When someone in your household is feeling ill, your first “friend” will be the BHERT (Barangay Health /Emergency Response Team).  That’s the unit in the barangay center that is tasked to profile the suspected cases and report to the DOH.  The team will evaluate the household’s exposure to a suspect or confirmed case, then recommend if they should be brought to a quarantine center or be isolated at home.


And of course by now one should know what those acronyms mean because each set of letters dictates how our regular day goes.

The strictest guidelines to movement is under the ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) which among others, imposes a strict home quarantine for persons below 18 and over 65, and movement only to get essential goods and services.

The MECQ (Modified ECQ) allows more businesses and public transportation vehicles to operate, but movement is still restricted to the same age groups in ECQ.

The GCQ (General Community Quarantine) was where Metro Manila was in March before the government imposed the ECQ due to the surge in the number of daily COVID cases.  More businesses were open, and people were moving around, even going on leisure trips despite the many requirements.

The MGCQ (Modified GCQ) was the category we all hoped would be in but the second wave of COVID-19 used us back.  MGCQ is the last step to living a new normal life.

For the complete list of industries allowed to operate, check the ominubus guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine in the Philippines with amendments as of March 28, 2021.

(Send other acronyms related to COVID-19. Email [email protected])