QC to start community-based coronavirus testing after Holy Week

MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City government will start conducting community-based coronavirus tests after the Holy Week to stem the number of COVID-19 cases in the city.

The QC government said in a statement on Thursday, April 9, that the city targets an initial 1,300 tests in areas with the highest number of persons under investigation (PUIs). 

The kits will come from the Department of Health (DOH). 

“We need to flatten the curve by testing PUIs and putting them in one of our facilities while waiting for their results,” said QC Health Department (QCHD) head Dr Esperanza Arias.

“We want to avoid a situation where the patient might infect a relative whose immune system is compromised,” she added.

Dr. Rolando Cruz, head of the QCHD Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, said people showing COVID-19 symptoms or “people with cough and colds, influenza-like symptoms… and acute respiratory infection" will be tested.

The city government said its testing centers will have swab booths that provide protection for healthcare workers while also saving on personal protective equipment (PPE).

SWAB BOOTHS. Quezon City personnel set up COVID-19 swab booths at the grounds of a city hospital. Photo from Quezon City Government Facebook page

SWAB BOOTHS. Quezon City personnel set up COVID-19 swab booths at the grounds of a city hospital.

Photo from Quezon City Government Facebook page

Arias said the samples will be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for testing, with results expected to be released in 2 to 3 days.

She said the city government is setting up partnerships with the Philippine Red Cross, St Luke’s Medical Center, and the Lung Center of the Philippines. Once finalized, the waiting time would  reduced to about an hour she said.

“Those who have symptoms from urban poor communities as well as those who will be tested positive will be referred to our HOPE facilities,” she added.

The city government said it will get another 1,500 kits from the Philippine Red Cross next week, and that it is procuring 10,000 swab kits and universal transfer mediums.

Mayor Joy Belmonte said community-based testing is crucial in flattening the curve, in addition to social distancing and mass testing.

“If we can have all 3 things together, we can secure our city and protect the population from further contamination,” said Belmonte.

As of Thursday, Quezon City has 641 coronavirus cases with 58 deaths and 35 recoveries. It has 94 PUIs and 674 persons under monitoring for the coronavirus.

Quezon City is the country's largest and most populous city, with a population of almost 3 million. – Rappler.com