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Valenzuela City starts COVID-19 mass testing; Gatchalian wants lockdown violators arrested

The City of Valenzuela began on Saturday the mass testing for COVID-19 in a bid to curb the further spread of the disease.

Twenty-five individuals were scheduled to undergo COVID-19 testing in the city on Saturday.

Among this first batch are two nurses and their family members.

The local government aims to test all 537 persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs) in Valenzuela. 



Valenzuela City partnered with The Medical City (TMC) and Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) for the processing of the samples.

According to City Pathologist Amelia Fibra, TMC can process about 25 samples a day with a turnaround time of two days while Lung Center can handle a maximum of 20 samples per day with results out in three to five days. 

At this rate, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said the city would be able to have a clearer picture of the situation by the end of the enhanced community quarantine period on April 30.

"It will take us 20 days to finish the entire database with a minimum of 25. So if we can ask them to expand them to 50, even faster, so by the end of 20 days we should have a clearer idea as to how many positives there are in the city. And then 'yung number namin ng PUI and PUM will drastically go very very low as in baka zero na kasi theoretically na-test na sila lahat," he said. 
The ability to test, Gatchalian said, also allows them to redirect resources where these are most needed.

"In 48 hours if we know they are negative, we remove the lockdown. We can redeploy those resources somewhere else and we don't have to keep on delivering food packs to them kasi they can already take care of themselves," the mayor said.

Arrest violators

Meanwhile, Gatchalian's older brother, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged other local governments to conduct their own mass testing as well.

"Para malabanan natin itong virus at bumalik na sa normal ang ating pamumuhay dapat ang mga lokal na pamahalaan ang mag implement ng mass testing dahil sila nakakaalam kung saan-saan lahat ng pui, pum at frontliners," Gatchalian said. 

Gatchalian said the national government can provide for hospital equipment in line with the provisions of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. 

Gatchalian said  failure to do massive testing might defeat the purpose of the ongoing enchanced community quarantine.

Gatchalian said people who violate the provisions of the quarantine guidelines must be arrested.

"Arestuhin yung lumalabas ng kanilang bahay tapos nag-iinuman, kumakain, nag-sosocialize. bawal yun. puwede lang sila lumabas kung bibili sila ng gamot, pagkain at hospital. Iyong tatlo lang other than that bawal," he said.

As of Saturday, Valenzuela has 36 positive COVID-19 cases, 242 PUIs and 295 PUMs. —KG/MDM, GMA News