Mass testing in Cavite begins; DLSHSI accredited as COVID-19 testing center
Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla Jr. confirmed that the mass testing in the province will begin today, April 14, starting with the cities of Bacoor, Imus, and Dasmariñas which hold the highest number of COVID-19 cases.
People who experience symptoms or have been exposed to confirmed patients may head to their barangay health office to get checked if they are in need of swabbing. The swabbing booths in each city will then send samples to De La Salle Health Institute (DLSHSI) laboratory for testing.
DLSHSI as a testing center has been accredited at level 4 status by the Department of Health.
The testing program
“The infrastructure is in place. We will spend another P300,000,000 for the mass testing to be effective,” Remulla posted on his Facebook page.
The program aims to provide testing to at least two million citizens within the province, which means that there will be certain sectors prioritized.
In the updated version of Remulla’s announcement, those who are required to be tested are: suspects (formerly called Persons Under Investigation or PUI); factory workers; public utility jeepney (PUJ), public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers; senior citizens; teachers; frontline workers, and; market and grocery staff.
Owners of private markets, private schools, and factories will pay for the testing of their employees while the provincial government will cover the testing expenses of everyone else.
The test which costs P2,000 per person will cost the provincial government an additional P500,000,000. Remulla cannot speak for the 300,000 Caviteños employed in Metro Manila but he is asking the employers to pay for the testing costs of their employees.
Mass testing will expand into other sectors once those previously mentioned are covered. Moreover, a certification from the Department of Health (DOH) is necessary to ensure that the merchants bringing in cargo into the province are not infected.
The testing facility
Cavite is the first province in Luzon to be accredited by DOH and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to use a Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing laboratory through De La Salle University’s Health Science Institute (DLSHSI) in Dasmariñas.
The PCR testing laboratory’s objective is to produce millions to billions of coronavirus sample copies quickly.
As stated in a GMA news article, the province secured three PCR machines that will be handled by certified medical technologists from DLSHSI. The machines were said to be 97 percent accurate.
Remulla expressed that mass testing in Cavite is only a part of a bigger solution, being only one province out of the 81 affected in the Philippines. “I think that if we do it right here then maybe others will follow our lead,” he said.
In his previous interviews, he also warned that once the mass testing is underway, the COVID-19 positive patients will be isolated from the others and no visitors are allowed. Meanwhile, a separate quarantine area for patients with mild to moderate cases is being prepared whereas those with severe to critical cases remain in the hospital for treatments.
The COVID-19 infection rate in Cavite has decreased since the implementation of the community quarantine, but Remulla expects it to rise by 300 to 400 percent when the mass testing starts.
As of April 13, the recorded COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 4,932. While 315 have succumbed to the disease and 242 have recovered from it.