By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Negros Occidental and Bacolod City will implement a “four-day timeout weekend” from August 28 to 31 to allow mass testing of 10,000 target individuals who are exhibiting “flu-like” symptoms.
In a joint press conference of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental’s leaders Saturday morning, August 22, former congressman and Capitol consultant Alfredo Benitez said, “There will be no movement at all. There will be a lockdown for four days, while we test everybody.”
The plan will be implemented in phases with Bacolod City taking the lead on August 28 to 29, followed by Silay City, Talisay City, Bago City, and Murcia on August 30 to 31, he said.
Benitez said Bacolod and the province will coordinate to ensure enough bed capacity for whatever expected amount of positive results.
He said the province needs to strengthen its contact tracing efforts, especially those with Covid-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, coughing, and loss of taste and smell.
“Once we do an efficient contact tracing, we will test them,” he said.
He added that the test results should not be long. If it will last a week, a suspected patient could have interacted with more people which will cause a problem.
He also said that the province plans to produce 2,500 test results per day.
Benitez said it is very important that the people and the local government units will be cooperative in this effort due to the rising cases of Covid-19 in Bacolod and the whole province.
“At the rate it is going, we don’t want to be the next Cebu. We don’t want that to happen. We are appealing to LGUs including Bacolod,” he said. “With this, we feel we can catch up with the virus and isolate them before they infect others.”
The provincial and city governments will each issue executive orders to implement the lockdowns, the former congressman said.
Meanwhile, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the testing will be free and will be charged to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Benitez also said that he has talked to Secretary Vince Dizon, the country’s testing czar, who promised to send the needed “consumables” to implement the mass testing.
The four-day mass testing will entail P35 million, he said, adding that a task force will be also created to formulate guidelines./DGB, WDJ