Press Release
March 30, 2020

Dispatch from Crame No. 757:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on the need for more Testing Facilities

Last Friday, RITM discovered that Rep. Erick Go Yap of ACT-CIS Partylist is actually negative for COVID-19, and later adopted the political version of "proper handwashing technique" by attributing the mistake to an individual who was "enlisted as augmentation staff outside regular workforce of the laboratory."

In another news report, RITM admitted that it is taking them a week before it could release results of COVID-19 tests, compared to their normal processing time of 24 to 48 hours.

Even if DOH has tapped its five (5) subnational laboratories in Davao, Cebu, Baguio, Manila and Quezon City to do their share in testing, these additional laboratories will still face the same problems that RITM is facing - backlogs and delay, high risk of error, lack of manpower and incapacity to process mass testing.

Last week, Marikina City was twice turned down by DOH for their COVID-19 testing efforts. First, Marikina City's whole 6th Floor Health Office was rejected by DOH since it failed to meet safety and biosafety standards, and subsequently, government run-Amang Rodriguez Medical Center in Marikina, was also rejected because it didn't have adequate space to house the testing machines.

Malaki bang kabawasan sa gobyerno kung payagan nito ang mga LGUs tulad ng Marikina na tumulong sa pagtest para sa COVID-19? Imbes na pigilan ay dapat tulungan ng gobyerno na mahulma ang mga creative at resourceful na responses ng mga LGUs lalo na ukol sa mass testing sa kani-kanilang lugar.

Gaya ng nasabi ko na: lubhang mahalaga ang agarang mass testing. A lot of things depend on early detection and identification of as many COVID-19 carriers as possible.

In the case of South Korea, around 9,332 people were infected but with only 139 deaths. What is South Korea's secret? The trace, test and treat strategy. South Korea has been aggressive in testing that it rolled out 118 facilities, not to mention the innovative drive-thru COVID 19- testing facilities.

Our government must imbibe this attitude from the South Koreans in their fight against COVID -19. Let us listen to their Vice Health Minister, who said: "First, public participation must be secured through openness and transparency. Second is to respect creative thinking and use cutting-edge technology to develop the most effective means of response."

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