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Vince Dizon named coronavirus testing czar

Aside from being the deputy chief implementer of the government's coronavirus response, Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) President and CEO Vivencio "Vince" Dizon will also take on the role as the Philippines' new COVID-19 testing czar. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement on Monday, May 4, saying Dizon was named the "chief coordinator" of the government's "T3" program to trace, treat, and test suspected coronavirus patients. 

Before becoming deputy chief implementer of the government's coronavirus response, Dizon had played an active role in setting up "mega quarantine facilities" all over Luzon. 

The quarantine centers, modeled after those found in other countries like China and Spain, were prepared with partners from the private sector and will be used to house patients with mild to moderate coronavirus symptoms as well as those suspected to have the disease. 

Roque said with Dizon as COVID-19 testing czar, the country is expected to increase its testing capacity significantly.

"Buong-buo naman po ang tiwala ng buong IATF at ng Presidente kay Vince Dizon para maging T3 czar – test, trace, and treat. Pagtiwalaan po natin si Ginoong Vince Dizon na mapapadami pa niya ang testing capacity ng buong bayan, hindi lang po ng gobyerno, pati po ng pribadong sektor," Roque said.  

(The IATF and President wholeheartedly trust Vince Dizon to become T3 czar – test, trace, and treat. Let's trust Mr Vince Dizon to increase the testing capacity of not just the whole government but also the private sector.) 

As testing czar, Dizon's first project is getting 4 "mega swabbing sites" operational by the end of the week. The Department of Health earlier announced it was working with the BCDA and the transportation department to have sites operational in the following areas: 

  • Philippine Arena - to cater to tests in Bulacan and in the north of Metro Manila
  • Mall of Asia Arena - for tests in the south of Metro Manila
  • Enderun tent - for tests in the east of Metro Manila
  • Palacio de Manila - for tests in the west of Metro Manila

Once operational, the sites are expected to conduct a total of 5,000 tests daily. The government's goal is to increase the country's testing capacity to 30,000 daily by the end of May. 

Health experts earlier said it was crucial the Philippines conduct more tests to gain a timely and accurate understanding of the extent of the disease's spread in the country. 

Latest figures showed the Philippines has 9,485 coronavirus cases as of Monday, including 623 deaths and 1,315 recoveries. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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