Cabaero: Scared of the swab, not of Covid-19

Nini Cabaero
·3 min read

I’ve heard it said many times. That some people are afraid of taking the swab test for the Sars-CoV-2 but not of getting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

One person said she’s scared of taking the swab test for the virus that causes Covid-19 because many of those tested turned out positive yet they didn’t have any symptoms. “Mag positive dayon,” she said. She was supposed to take the test together with a family member she’s to accompany to a hospital for a procedure. The hospital procedure would have to wait.

Another person said they have mild symptoms but they would rather recuperate at home. No need for a swab test or to notify their barangay as they can handle the situation. They will wait 14 days then take the antibodies test that will show if they have recovered from Covid-19.

Their stories showed how they’re afraid of a swab test because a positive result could mean they give up their livelihood for at least two weeks, they are isolated from family, they may have to pay for their isolation or medical expenses, they suffer the inconvenience of being away from home, and, this last reason, they know how the neighbors can gossip.

For those afraid of the test, they should make sure they take all the precautions of wearing mask and face shield, washing hands regularly, keeping their distance, and staying at home.

But it is puzzling how they are scared of the test but not of Covid-19 when it should be the other way around. At least the test will show if they are infected. If they are positive, there are protocols to address their situation. This is one misunderstanding that should be addressed in the messaging being done as part of Cebu’s response to Covid-19.

This fear of taking the test shows a lack of confidence in the test as some would assume they would likely turn out positive, and they do not trust the government’s handling of the pandemic. Not taking the swab test also deprives the government of the true picture of the extent of infection and of how the country is faring in addressing the pandemic.

The DOH Covid-19 Tracker showed that 7,757 new cases were reported on March 21, 2021, bringing the total in the country to 663,794. Of the total number, 73,072 were active cases as of that day. As to the number of individuals who were tested, the total in the country is at 9,072,380. Every day since August last year, some 30,000 to 40,000 people got tested for the virus. It is not clear if the testing is growing in number, but the figures in the tracker do not tell the whole story.

Address that fear of the swab test in the messaging. Tell the public not to fear the test because if they turn out positive there are procedures for that. But they should be afraid, be very afraid, of the Covid-19.