Senator Sonny Angara filed a Senate bill earlier this week which seeks to have COVID-19 testing for people going back to work and belonging to vulnerable sectors.
Under Senate Bill 1535 (Crushing COVID Act), Angara proposed that people returning to work and with medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, pulmonary diseases, cancer, renal failure, or are pregnant, of old age, obese and immunocompromised should be prioritized for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab testing to screen for the novel coronavirus.
“They are the people who are most vulnerable to contracting severe COVID-19 and at higher risk of death so they should definitely be tested right away,” the senator said.
The bill also calls on prioritizing COVID-19 testing on the following:
- health care workers
- sales personnel in public markets, groceries and supermarkets
- food handlers
- factory workers
- construction workers
- security guards and drivers
- banks and transfer fund facilities personnel
- laundry shop workers
- house helpers
- pregnant women
- wellness and salon workers
- uniformed personnel
- media personnel
- barangay health workers
- family members whose households have dwellers who went abroad last December 2019 until the present time.
Angara said passengers arriving from abroad, including foreign nationals, should also undergo COVID-19 testing.
The senator said he expects Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth to cover most or the entire cost of the testing. Foreigners though would have to pay for the cost of the testing, Angara said.
Angara said unless more testing is done, "we can never be sure of our safety when we go out of our homes and get back to work."
The bill also provides for an emergency pandemic leave to cover the period an employee undergoes quarantine or treatment after testing positive for COVID-19.
"This is separate from the existing leave credits of the employee. With this provision, we will address the no work, no pay scenario they would most likely face if and when they test positive,” the senator said.
The Department of Health said as of Friday, there have been 13,597 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded in the country.
Of this number, 857 have died while 3,092 recovered. —KG, GMA News