By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The head of the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH) has raised questions over the proposed “time-out weekend” scheduled to begin on Friday to give way to the mass testing of 10,000 symptomatic individualsfor coronavirus disease 2019, or Covid-19, in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental.
CLMMRH head Dr. Julius Drilon acknowledged that Friday’s planned mass testing is a welcome development but he has a lot of concerns over the proposal.
Drilon pointed out that former Cong. Alfredo Benitez did coordinate with him to conduct the mass testing, but a formal meeting between them has not been made.
The CLMMRH head said officials who are leading the proposal should also consider different machines used by the five laboratories in the province, as well as their capacity in releasing the results.
According to the doctor, if these machines are to be combined, they can only process around 1,700 tests per day.
He also questioned as to where the Covid-19 positive individuals will be brought, and how the contact tracing would be conducted.
Drilon also raised the need for additional medical technologists and encoders to hasten the release of the test results.
The CLMMRH, he said, will not be able to accept the swab samples of 10,000 target individuals if the problem of supply and the lack of protective equipment are addressed, saying he doesn’t want to risk the safety of the laboratory operators.
Earlier over the weekend, the provincial and city officials led by Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and Mayor EvelioLeonardiaproposed to conduct a mass testing during the four-day “time-out weekend.”
“We are both experiencing the same problem. We hope that together, we can come up with more solutions and strategies,” Lacson said.
In response, Leonardia said: “As the governor has said, this is us being one family here. We are glad to be one with the provincial government in this.”
From August 28 to 31, a lockdown would be enforced to four cities and one municipality, according to Provincial Economic Affairs consultant Alfredo Benitez.
“There will be no movement at all while we test everybody,” Benitez said.
To be implemented through a special task force, the “time-out weekend”targets symptomatic patients and their close contacts in the cities of Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, and Bago, and the municipality of Murcia.
“Once we do an efficient contact tracing, we will test them,” he said
Benitez explained that consumables such as testing kits will be provided by the national government at an estimated cost of P35 million.
Identified individuals will be swabbed for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test for free.
These will include 5,000 persons from Bacolod, who will undergo swabbing on August 28 and 29.
The other 5,000 will all come from cities of Talisay, Silay and Bago, and Murcia town, who will be swabbed on August 30 and 31.
The swab samples will be processed in four molecular bio-laboratories, including four in Bacolod and one in Negros Occidental, and will be released in 24 hours./WDJ