Bicol prepares for Covid-19 mass testing

LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Health (DOH)-Bicol said the mass testing for people suspected to have coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infection would be enforced after the technical and operational procedures have been put in place.

Dr. Ernie Vera, DOH-Bicol regional director and chairman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, in a phone interview on Tuesday said priorities for testing under the guidelines are patients with severe and mild cases, front-line personnel, senior citizens, those with co-morbidities, and pregnant women.

"While the technical guidelines are in place, the mass testing however would start as soon as we finish the detailed operational procedures. These include testing supplies requirements,” Vera said.

Asked how many people would undergo mass testing in Bicol, he said that it would depend on the logistical and laboratory capacity and the outcome of the contact tracing procedures being enforced.

Vera said at present, the regional laboratory unit can process 30 tests a day.

Meanwhile, DOH-Bicol reported on Tuesday one additional Covid-19 case, bringing the number of confirmed cases recorded in the region to 19.

"A 74-year-old Filipino male from Albay is the 19th Covid-19 case in Bicol Region. He consulted last April 13, 2020 at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital due to fever and cough. He has no travel history and his exposure history is still to be established," Vera said.

DOH-Bicol strongly advises the public to stay at home and follow preventive measures against Covid-19.

"Our home is the safest place for us during this time. While at home, everyone should still practice social distancing, cough etiquette, regular handwashing and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces. We can flatten the curve of Covid-19 cases if we stop the transmission of the virus. It will be possible if we all stay at home," Vera said. (PNA)