As of today, a total of 3,018 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 1,209 persons under investigation (PUIs), 52 who had recovered from the coronavirus, and 136 confirmed who had passed away from the coronavirus. The Department of Health reassured, however, that the sudden spike in the number of deaths resulted in reporting late of the previous deaths.

The jumping of confirmed virus-positive cases, however, is still quite alarming, if not entirely shocking to some, compared to last March 31, previously 2,084 confirmed cases then. Another thousand PUIs may contribute more numbers to the confirmed cases and it wouldn’t be long enough for the cases to raise yet into another thousand. With the vaccine to cure the coronavirus still a long way ahead, the primary focus is to mitigate the virus by identifying infection individuals and quarantine them with medical care before the virus spreads out. Translation, mass testing.

Mass testing for everyone has been shoved around in the social media, which had been circulating in Twitter and Facebook the most, posting hashtags #MassTestingNowPH, #NotoVIPtesting and #MassTestingNgayonNa due to controversies of many politicians being able to get tested while showing no symptoms, pointing out their travel history, among others, is the reason to get themselves tested.

DOH clarified there was no VIP testing involved, citing that some public officials were tested due to the outdated triage system qualifying them so. The new triage system, however, has already been posted in public.

It was announced, in clarification, by DOH that mass testing of persons suspected of the coronavirus infection will take place around April 14 or so, which means that mass quarantine facilities might be ready by then. The said mass testing will only be focused on persons under investigation (PUIs) who are observed to may have been infected by the virus due being limited in the first place.

Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said the actual “mass testing” notion is undergoing discussion at the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, that is, it is still an ongoing process as of yet. Which means, this takes some time.

As per Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, there are now 8 testing labs that were accredited:

  • Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
  • Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center
  • San Lazaro Hospital
  • Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center
  • Southern Philippines Medical Center
  • University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health
  • Lung Center of the Philippines
  • Western Visayas Medical Center

Aside testing kits, looking up to cover more testing laboratories for coronavirus infection are still ongoing. So far, UP-NIH has been approved as a subnational laboratory that can run 130 tests a day. PGH Medical Research Lab is taking steps to be accredited as well. This is excruciating process but very critical, as looking for appropriate labs for virus testing requires test labs to be fully equipped that won’t harm medical workers and contain the spread.

The preparations for mass testing is not only critical for the lives of medical workers but also very crucial for the public who needed mass testing the most. On the silver lining behind these dark clouds, however, is that the public’s outcry for mass testing has been heard and the government is on the way for it- that is already long overdue.

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