Zamora not inclined to have coronavirus rapid test in San Juan City

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora is not inclined to implement mass testing in the city using rapid antibody testing kits because of the uncertain results they yield.

Instead, Zamora said that it would be better if the national government, through the Department of Health (DOH), conducts the coronavirus mass testing. (READ: DOH tasked to set guidelines on use of coronavirus rapid test kits)

In a media interview posted on his Facebook page, Zamora said on Monday, April 13, that the city government has tried several kinds of these rapid test kits but the “false negatives and false positives” results did not give the confidence on the effectiveness of the test kits.

Ano nangyayari? Ano man resulta ng rapid test, kailangan mo rin magpatest pa rin sa RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) so nangyayari nasasayang lang yung effort na kukuha ka ng rapid test, bibili ka ng kagamitan mo na ito, sapagkat pagdating ng resulta, kailangan mo pa rin ivalidate yan sa RITM through the DOH,” Zamora said.

(What happens? Whatever the result of the rapid test, one still has to have tests done at RITM. What happens is the effort of getting rapid test kits, of buying the equipment, will only go to waste because the results will arrive and you have to have them validated at RITM through the DOH.)

So talagang umaasa po kami na DOH mismo talaga ang magpapatupad ng mass testing para sa lahat ng LGUs. Yan po talaga ay malaking maitutulong sa atin,” he added.

(So we are really hoping that it would be the DOH that would implement the mass testing for all LGUs. That would be a big help to us.)

Rapid test kits check blood samples for antibodies, while PCR-based test kits, which are used in RITM and other coronavirus testing laboratories, use swab samples from patients to detect the coronavirus.

Some localities in Metro Manila and in the provinces have begun their own mass testing using PCR-based test kits.

Zamora said that as of Monday, San Juan City has 159 coronavirus cases, 17 of whom have recovered, and 45 others have been discharged from hospitals. 

It was also Zamora’s first day out following a self-imposed 2-week home quarantine after one of his staff members tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Zamora attended the inauguration and blessing for the 8 container vans that were converted into COVID-19 staging areas for patients waiting to be confined at the San Juan Medical Center on N. Domingo Street. One staging area is exclusive to the use of  mothers who had just given birth and tested positive for COVID-19.

The modular, lightweight “container van facilities were made possible through the support of EEI Corporation, an affiliate of the Yuchengco group of companies,” Zamora’s Facebook post said.

The converted container vans, which are placed just outside the medical center, are equipped with beds and air conditioning units.

Zamora said that the San Juan Medical Center is already equipped with isolation rooms for COVID-19 patients as well as a COVID-19 ward.

The San Juan Science High School has been converted into an “overflow quarantine facility” with the help of Xavier School, Zamora said.

Zamora said that the city government will shoulder the cremation costs of San Juan residents who succumb to the disease. He said the city government has discussed this with funeral homes with crematoriums.

Zamora said that families of the deceased could coordinate with the City Mayor’s Office for the cremation details.

As of Monday, the DOH said that there are 4,932 coronavirus cases in the country, with 315 fatalities. –

(Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said that some Metro Manila and provincial localities have started using antibody rapid test kits. They use the coronavirus PCR-based test. We apologize for the error.)