MANILA — Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo Ano announced late Tuesday that he is allowing local government units (LGUs) to purchase and deploy Covid-19 rapid test kits for mass testing.
Sec. Ano gave the statement after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte approved the extension of Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) up to April 30, 2020 subject to the regular assessment of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Disease.
The ECQ was supposed to end on Easter Sunday, 12 April 2020.
Sec. Ano said he approved the use of antibody rapid test kits on persons under monitoring (PUMs) in LGUs and arriving overseas Filipino workers from countries with high incidence of the disease.
“We all want everything to get back to normal, yet we cannot risk further transmissions or a relapse. This extension is part of the effort of the national government to flatten the curve of Covid-19 transmissions in the country that’s why the DILG is throwing its full support to the President,” Ano said.
South Korea and China both successfully flattened the curve with the use of rapid test kits.
In fact, the former even launched drive-through Covid-19 test sites. The strategy is currently being duplicated by the United States with its walk-through Covid-19 test sites situated in the parking lots of known supermarkets.
Rapid test kits are also being used in the United Kingdom, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and in Europe for their ability to come up with the test results on whether a person is negative or positive of the disease in 15 minutes.
The antibody rapid test is usually used in the two-pronged approach in identifying individuals who may carry the disease.
Sec. Ano said the budget for purchasing the rapid test kits are available to the LGUs.
In a joint memorandum circular issued by the DILG and the Department of Budget and Management addressed to the LGUs titled “Additional Guidelines on the Utilization of the 20% of the Annual Internal Revenue Allotment for Development Projects in View of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Situation,” it states that part of the budget may be used for the purchase of Covid-19 test kits.
“The 20% DF (development fund) shall likewise be allowed to be used for the following Covid-19 related purposes . . . (2.1.2) Procurement of equipment, reagents, and kits for COVID-19 testing,” the DILG-DBM joint memorandum circular stated.
While Sec. Ano said LGUs can already purchase antibody rapid test kits for PUMs, he held that RT-PCR (real time-polymerase chain reaction) test kits may be used on the other hand for persons under investigation (PUIs).
DILG is targeting to test up to 200,000 individuals during the quarantine using both antibody rapid test kits and PCR kits to get a clearer and more real-time picture of what’s really happening in the communities in terms of viral infection and penetration in populations. (ia/sovereighph.com)