MANILA – Taguig City on Wednesday formally activated its barangay-based and drive-through testing as part of efforts to control the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak in its locality.
These initiatives are under the city’s Systematic Mass Approach to Responsible Testing (SMART), Taguig Mayor Lino Cayetano said in a statement.
“Many experts have seen increased Covid-19 testing as an effective tool to decrease transmissions and more effectively treat those infected. We are heeding their suggestions,” Cayetano said.
Since March, SMART has tested nearly 1,000 individuals through a Covid-19 on-call service, through which mobile teams of health workers would collect swabs from possible patients in the confines of their homes.
Taguig will also train personnel in its 31 health centers and three “Super Health Centers” to conduct Covid-19 testing in the barangays where they operate.
Meanwhile, those who find the health centers inaccessible but have personal vehicles may undertake the drive-through testing.
The service will be available in temporary testing facilities set up in Bonifacio Global City in Barangay Fort Bonifacio and Taguig Lakeshore in Barangay Lower Bicutan.
“With these approaches, we are making Covid-19 testing more accessible to Taguigeños,” Cayetano said.
“In doing this, we are capturing the real breadth of Covid-19 infections in the city, normalizing testing, and taking away the stigma around the infection,” he added.
This will also capacitate the city’s health workers on the safe handling of possible Covid-19 cases.
“The new skill would immensely help us in the foreseeable future where Covid-19 is a notifiable disease or a disease that should be immediately reported and managed,” he added.
With the new components, SMART will expand testing to cover recovering Covid-19 patients; persons exhibiting flu-like symptoms; front-line workers; people who may have interacted with confirmed cases; and vulnerable demographics, such as pregnant women, elderly individuals, and persons with co-morbidities.
In handling the volume of samples for Covid-19 testing, Taguig added new partner laboratories to its existing agreement with the Department of Health and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
It recently forged new partnerships with St. Luke’s Medical Center – Bonifacio Global City and the Philippine Red Cross.
Cayetano said the city has maintained low transmission because of a holistic approach to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Apart from testing, the city government has reorganized itself, continues the enforcement of a community quarantine, containment, contact tracing, and disinfection as part of the holistic approach.
“We have strictly implemented the guidelines of the ECQ, complemented that effort with the provision of relief, other forms of assistance and continued social services. On top of this, we have increased our capacity for treatment and quarantine. This new step is part of that holistic approach. We see mass testing as a crucial and proactive step, one that we think will benefit the city even beyond the ECQ,” he said. (PNA)