THE testing of Carbon Public Market vendors for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) will start on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020.
A total of 2,000 vendors will be tested until Friday, Oct. 2; the methods for the testing will be a combination of rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, according to Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
Garganera said there is a need to be aggressive in testing, especially in areas frequented by the public. This is to ensure that the transmission of Covid-19 infections is prevented, he said.
The vendors of the market’s Unit 1 will be tested first on Sept. 30; the Units 2 and 3 vendors will be tested on Oct. 1.
The final testing day on Oct. 2 will involve ambulant vendors, including the vendors at Freedom Park and Warwick Barracks.
The three-day test will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the parking lot in the Carbon Public Market complex.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of the Department of Health 7 for Covid-19 updates, said in a virtual press conference on Monday, Sept. 28, that a pooled RT-PCR test will be partnered with RDT for surveillance purposes.
The RDT, which cannot detect Covid-19, will be used to monitor if the vendors have past or present exposure to any infection.
Loreche said a batch of five vendors will undergo pooled RT-PCR testing, which is expected to bring down the cost of swab tests, optimize the availability of test kits, and reduce the workload of laboratory staff.
The RT-PCR testing, considered the gold standard in Covid-19 detection, is advisable only in areas with low prevalence of Covid-19 cases, said Loreche in an online presser last Aug. 24.
In the pooled testing method, swab samples of several individuals are put into a single RT-PCR test. If the result is positive, individual assessment will be made to determine which specimen is infected with Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. But if the RT-PCR test is negative, then individual testing will not be needed anymore.
Garganera said vendors do not need to close their stalls and stores during the testing. The City, he said, will find ways to let the vendors earn on the day they are scheduled to take the test for Covid-19.
Last week, the EOC personnel discussed with vendor groups the City’s plan to test them. The plan was met with approval by the vendors’ representatives.
Known as the oldest and largest market in Cebu City, Carbon Public Market is located in Barangay Ermita, a coastal urban village that sits adjacent to the Mactan Channel.
The whole market complex has three units or structures.
The market used to have nearly 5,000 vendors or stall owners selling in the market; the public health crisis sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic forced the majority of the vendors to either close their stores or decide to lie low and wait for the situation to get better. (JJL)