MANILA – Extensive testing and contact tracing are vital to the government campaign against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19 chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said Tuesday.
In a virtual press briefing, Galvez, who is also Presidential Peace Adviser, said the government aims to quickly and effectively identify potential carriers of the disease to isolate them from crowded communities and halt the rise in the number of new infections.
He said the government targets to get “real-time” data and conduct “relentless contact tracing” of those who had contact with possible Covid-19 carriers.
Once mass testing is done, Galvez said, a “common and true picture” in the area could be visualized.
“In our meeting in Malacañang last night, the President had already approved the purchasing of the additional 900,000 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing kits and the 2 million rapid testing kits,” he said.
This includes the procurement of PCR machines, automated extraction machines, freezers, and other materials used by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to capacitate the accredited testing laboratories in the country.
The government aims to conduct about 5,000 to 8,000 Covid-19 tests per day, Galvez said, adding that the RITM is doing its best to speed up the accreditation of 15 testing facilities.
“We are on Stage 5 when it comes to our preparation,” he said.
Galvez reported that the RITM has already been doing more than 3, 000 tests per day.
He also noted that the Ninoy Aquino Stadium patient care center (PCC) has been formally turned over to the local government of Manila and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Galvez thanked AFP Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., for volunteering more than 200 medical personnel to man the PCCs at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, and World Trade Center.
The PCC at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City will be manned by the Philippine National Police.
He also thanked Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade and the Philippine Coast Guard for preparing personnel, inbound seafarers, and overseas workers to augment the battle against Covid-19.
Galvez further reported the arrival of the additional 12,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) sets for health workers.
Meanwhile, the government is readying the repatriation of 70,000 to 100,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who will undergo the 14-day mandatory quarantine procedure to ensure that no one among them is a Covid-19 carrier.
Galvez also appealed to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), local government executives, barangay officials, policemen, and military to strengthen and intensify the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in their localities so that the efforts made in the past one month would not be wasted.
“We have seen several violations during the lockdown. We are requesting the public to stay at home to be safe,” he said, urging the people to cooperate with the government.
“Don’t be negligent, lives are at stake here,” he said.
Galvez reiterated that the government is always doubling its efforts to halt the contagion. (PNA)