Opposition calls for free mass testing to back 'no vaxx, no labas' rule

The ‘No Vaxx, No Labas’ policy that will bar unvaccinated individuals from leaving their homes may not be enough to arrest the surge in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila but will work better if backed by free mass testing to be conducted immediately.

Rep. Arlene Brosas

House Asst. Minority Leader and Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas gave this suggestion as she pointed out that even vaccinated people could be carriers of the 2019 coronavirus without them knowing it.

"Vaccinated individuals can be carriers of the virus and can still test positive for COVID-19. Kaya hindi sapat itong 'No Vaxx, No Labas' policy na ipapatupad sa (that will be enforced in) NCR," said Rep. Arlene Brosas.

She stressed: ”The recent exponential COVID-19 surge in Metro Manila happened even when 102% of target NCR population is already vaccinated. That is why this latest MMC policy is blind to the actual situation on the ground.”

Brosas said that without expanded and free mass testing, we will remain blind to the viral transmission and infection among the vaccinated and the Bayan Muna chairman and former Rep. Neri Colmenares supported Brosas’ contention, saying that whatever restrictions planned will only be effective if we drastically increase our testing capacity.

He noted that health experts the Philippines require at least 120,000 tests per day for an effective Covid response. Our tests which only amount to less than half of this recommended number will not be able to effectively contend with Omicron.

“In particular, government must provide free and quick RT-PCR tests for those with Covid-19 symptoms and those exposed to positive cases. Local government units and national health agencies should ensure working hotlines where symptomatic and exposed individuals can call to get a free test and advice on quarantine protocols,” said Colmenares, who has filed his candidacy for senator.

“In the workplace, workers and employees should be tested for COVID 19 every 14 days using RT-PCR or antigen tests to ensure their safety and immediate detection of any outbreak. These tests can be fully subsidized by the government or partially shouldered by the employers to ensure compliance,” he explained.

“Should any worker test positive, the government must ensure that they are provided proper isolation facilities and financial and material support during the quarantine period so they need not worry about their families,” the opposition leader added.