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Sotto wants expanded nationwide mass testing for COVID-19

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Sunday pushed for expansion of the mass testing coverage for the COVID-19 disease, as Filipinos anticipate the relaxation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in select areas to general community quarantine (GCQ).

In a news release, Sotto expressed concern that most workers will soon be allowed to go back to their workplaces, even though the rate of COVID-19 infections remains high especially in Metro Manila.

He cited the Senate experience where 20 employees tested positive during rapid testing conducted on staff members as they reported for work last Monday.

According to him, the chamber's experience should serve as an eye opener to government leaders and the general population, who have been pushing for the relaxation of quarantine rules.

“These employees duly complied with the stay-at-home order of the government. They just stayed inside their homes for almost two months. They were not exposed to anyone who is sick of COVID-19. They did not show and feel any of the symptoms. Kung sila na nasa bahay lang at sumunod sa lahat ng health protocols ay nag-positive sa virus, siguradong mas malala ang pwedeng mangyari kung ma-lift na ang enhanced community quarantine at ang lahat ay papayagan ng lumabas ng kanilang mga bahay,” Sotto pointed out.

He suggested that the Department of Health should expand the coverage of its nationwide mass testing to cover more people so that health officials can get a clearer picture of the extent of COVID-19 transmission and infection.

“Let us remember that even among the quarantined population, the threat that the virus had already invaded their communities and even homes without them being aware of it is also high,” he said.

He added that the results of an expanded mass testing coverage will also serve to caution government leaders against prematurely lifting the current ECQ in Metro Manila and other areas.

"Premature lifting of strict quarantine regulations could lead to a worse second COVID-19 wave,” Sotto said.  —LBG, GMA News