Tell it to SunStar: Free mass testing now

WE urged President Rodrigo Duterte to prioritize mitigation measures amid the growing number of cases of Covid-19 in the country.

Based on his speech last Monday, March 30, 2020, the response of the government is still worrisome, if not severely inadequate. Instead of assuring the public, it raises more questions and uncertainty among our people. We expect better delivery of services to our kababayans, including effective, comprehensive and rights-based approaches and means in combating the disease. But where are these at present?

The battle with Covid-19 is a race against time. We cannot deal with this sitting down, and the soonest we get to test, trace, quarantine and isolate, the better. It is only then that we can effectively treat and monitor the rising number of people having the disease. With the public funds realigned and ready for use, this must be maximized for free and systematic mass testing for our people as one of the most practical and scientific ways in combating the disease. When we say mass testing for Covid-19, it means prioritizing testing frontline workers and members of communities where there are already confirmed cases.

It is in our prayers that the locally developed test kits for Covid-19 be made available for mass testing as soon as possible. The availability of these kits is our hope for early detection. Not only are these cheaper and more accessible, they could also yield results faster. Rapid mass testing can give us fair chance of controlling the rising numbers of those infected with Covid-19 in the country.

We continue to reiterate the World Health Organization’s six-point action, and that is to expand, train and deploy health-care workers, implement systems to find suspected cases, ramp up production of tests to increase availability, to identify facilities that can be transformed into coronavirus treatment centers and to develop plans to quarantine cases.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced that at least 120,000 locally developed Covid-19 test kits will be available on April 4. Field testing for these kits was expected to be finished on April 1.

As of March 31, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases jumped to 2,084, according to a Department of Health report.

Free mass testing will save lives, Mr. President. (By National Council of Churches in the Philippines)