About 150 people from various areas in Quezon City will be part of the pilot community-based testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tomorrow (Monday) at the QCX, Quezon Memorial Circle.
According to Project Director Joseph Juico, those who will be checked have been recommended by the QC Health Department in coordination with the barangays.
“These people are identified by the district health officers and are suspected COVID-19 patients with symptoms,” said Juico, adding the 150 persons will be divided into four batches.
The city government will provide one vehicle for each patient to ensure social distancing.
“The community-based testing is crucial as this would help calibrate our efforts in combating the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Mayor Joy Belmonte, adding that the move would also help flatten the curve.
Dr. Rolando Cruz, head of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the QC Health Department (QCHD), said samples will be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for testing. Results are expected to be released in 3 to 5 days.
Patients who will yield negative results will be allowed to go home but still required to undergo self-quarantine for 14 days.
“If a patient is tested positive, he or she will be automatically referred to Hope 2 under the care of health practitioners equipped to deal with mild symptoms,” said Dr. Cruz, referring to one of the city’s various facilities for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients.
Swab booths will be used during the testing to lessen health worker exposure to possible COVID-19 patients and to minimize the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Dr. Cruz said that the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) will provide 1,500 additional testing and extraction kits in the coming days. The Quezon City government is also in the process of procuring 10,000 swabs and universal transport media (UTM) kits.
Partnerships with St. Luke’s and Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) are being finalized for faster release of test results.
“We are actively talking with other hospitals that are now accredited or soon to be accredited for the use of their laboratories,” Dr. Cruz said.
The city is likewise coordinating with the national government for the use of the Ninoy Aquino Stadium or the Quezon Institute as alternative quarantine sites in case the city’s HOPE facilities reach full capacity.
The City Health Department is coordinating with gated communities and homeowners associations as well to initiate testing in their areas and identify suspected COVID-19 positive patients in their neighborhoods.
“Citizens of QC should cooperate and be one with the community-based testing so that we can properly document, treat and assist all COVID-19 positive patients,” said Juico.