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QC to start community-based testing for COVID-19 on April 13


The Quezon City government will start the community-based testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on Monday, April 13, in hopes to prevent the further spread of the deadly illness in the area.

Two swabbing booths have already been put up for the pilot community-based testing which will initially cover 150 individuals from 22 Barangays in Districts 1, 3 and 4 of the city suspected to have been exposed to the illness. They have already been notified by the QC Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

"It is by appointment. It is with coordination with our barangays and our health care workers. Hindi siya puwedeng walk in," Joseph Juico, project head for the QC community testing, said in a "24 Oras Weekend" report on Sunday.

"The possibility of the virus hitting more people in their barangay is one thing that we really have to focus on. What we want to do is try to contain the exposure of our suspected who may have or may not have COVID," he elaborated.

Under the program, individuals will be brought to the testing center where blood and swab samples will be collected for testing. They will also be interviewed for government records, all within a prescribed period of 15 minutes.

The samples will then be brought to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for COVID-10 testing. The individuals will be housed in a quarantine facility while awaiting results. A timeline was not indicated for the release of the results, as it would depend on the queue at the RITM.

Patients who yield negative results will be allowed to go home, but will still be required to undergo self-quarantine for 14 days.

“If a patient is tested positive, he or she will be automatically referred to  Hope 2 under the care of health practitioners equipped to deal with mild symptoms,” Dr. Rolando Cruz, head of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the QC Health Department, said in a separate emailed statement.

Hope 2 is one of the city’s facilities for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients.

According to Cruz, some 1,500 additional testing and extraction kits from the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) are also scheduled to be received in the coming days.

The QC government is also in the process of procuring some 10,000 swabs and universal transport media (UTM) kits.

"We are actively talking with other hospitals that are now accredited or soon to be accredited for the use of their laboratories," he said.

So far, some 20 medical technicians have been prepared for the community testing centers.

"Siyempre po nakakatakot kasi may mga pamilya din naman po kami, tapos kahit papaano proud rin po kasi makakatulong kami sa taong bayan," said Ralph Florenz Dela Cruz, a medical technician part of the program. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/BM, GMA News