Press Release
March 23, 2020

Hontiveros calls for mass testing amid COVID-19 outbreak

"Mass testing is a fundamental need to defeat the COVID-19 outbreak."

This was the remark of Senator Risa Hontiveros in her call for more COVID-19 test kits for the public, especially for high-risk Filipinos, such as health workers, frontliners, the elderly, and the immunocompromised.

On Monday, the Senator urged the Department of Health (DOH) to facilitate widespread testing and to upgrade diagnostic capacity across the country as soon as possible.

"The logic is simple: To defeat the outbreak, we need to determine more cases, isolate them, and respond to their treatment and care," the senator said.

The current DOH triage only allows those with severe symptoms to get tested. Hontiveros said mass testing is even more crucial when symptoms are mild, as those with undetectable symptoms remain as carriers of the coronavirus.

Hontiveros echoed her proposal for mass testing in her proposed amendments to Senate Bill No. 1413 that seeks to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers arising from the coronavirus situation.

"Social distancing and the lockdown are not enough to 'defeat the outbreak," said Hontiveros. "We need to follow the World Health Organization's advise for countries to 'test, test, test,", she added.

Hontiveros seeks expedited medical testing and observation through "upgrading diagnostic capacity and mass testing prioritizing high-risk individuals," her proposed amendment reads.

"Kung matetest ang lahat ng dapat i-test, kahit yung mga mild o walang sintomas pero high-risk, our health authorities will be able to isolate infected individuals and do contact tracing right away," she said.

The Senator also called for increased protections for medical personnel and frontliners 'including but not limited to personal protective equipment and adequate hazard pay.'

"Nagkakasakit na yung mga health workers at mga frontliners natin. Pero kahit sila hindi natetest dahil sa current triage," Hontiveros lamented. "Mass testing will protect our healthworkers, frontliners, those who are at-risk and eventually save more lives," she concluded.

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