Press Release
April 11, 2020

Presscon with the Valenzuela City Government together with Senator Win Gatchalian on the start of the localized targeted mass testing for COVID-19


MAYOR REX: Today we're starting the localized targeted mass testing. As mentioned a couple of days ago, we bought one of those kits that the FDA approved. Then we partnered up with the Medical City. They were kind enough to open their doors so the Valenzuelanos can avail of their processing services. We have 537 PUI's and PUM's, that's 242 PUI's, 295 PUM's to date. We have 34 live positive cases. The game plan now will be, number one to test all the PUI's and PUM's starting today and then break tomorrow because it's Easter. And then Monday onwards we start doing it again daily. In our agreement with the TMC, they reserved 25 tests per day for Valenzuela City. That's our minimum but it also says that we can expand it, depending on a first come first serve availability. Meaning it can be 50 if they don't have too much to process that day. From my understanding when we spoke, the PCR machine can run 75 at a given time. So, 25 is the minimum for Valenzuela but it can expand. Beside me is Doctor Jaime Exconde who is our City Health Officer, and Doctor Fibra, she is the in-house pathologist of the City. They can go through the details of the technical side and they have been working with us to make sense of this whole testing process. Remember I'm not a doctor so we have doctors to explain to us the letters a's to the letter's z's of this whole process. Of course, you know si Senator Sherwin, he's here, he's a constituent. He has so much interest in this endeavor as well. Of course, he helped us get connected with the different people in the industry when we were in the chase to look for kits and labs. I now yield the floor to doctor Jaime Exconde so he can explain to you what's happening as we speak right now.

DR. EXCONDE: Good morning, so we started to conceptualize last March 20. Then we called the attention, we invited Doctor Fibra to explain to us the details of the NCOV test kits and right beside me is Doctor Fibra, can you tell us more about the details of the NCOV test kits.

DR. FIBRA: Good morning everyone, I'm Doctor Fibra, the City Health Pathologist of Valenzuela. So right now we have the PCR-testing of our specimen and we send them first to the sub-national Lung Center of the Philippines and then we have a collaboration with the private Medical Center in the Philippines that is the Medical City. So the Medical City also have limitations in their capacity to test, so right now we are given only 25 samples to be submitted each day. Likewise, the Lung Center also have limited capacity to the testing so they are also requested a maximum of 20 test samples per day. So that is a total of about 40 samples per day that they can run. And with the turnaround time depends on their capacity right now. So far, the Medical City has a turnaournd time of 2 days After the samples are submitted. And then for the Lung Center they have at least 3 to 5 days turnaround time. So the process now in this examination is that we schedule patients who should be swabbed for the day. I have a total of 30 swabbers who can perform the swabbing. So they go on a regular shifting schedule with one swabber and one assistant during the swab. So we collect both oropharyngeal (OP) swab and nasopharyngeal (NP) swab and we use the viral transport media to preserve the virus and at the same time maintain its virality ready for transport to the different affiliated laboratories. So we follow the strict protocol of each laboratory and all of these are based on the WHO and the DOH standards. So we maintain protection of our swabbers and our med techs and we send them to the respective hospitals. We decontaminate them first before sending them the respective hospitals. So in these hospitals they have a special pathway dedicated for COVID samples only so as to not expose the staff of the hospital to these COVID samples. In the laboratory, they will also check first if the samples are okay and there is no problem in labelling, with the CIF form so all of these must be complete. It should be properly labelled, it should be properly decontaminated and we seal this in three containers. So the first container, is sealed in a cotton, with a ziplock and then we put it in a secondary container which is also considered to be a leakproof container. Then we place it in a cooler surrounded by cold packs to maintain the temperature of at least 2 to 8 degrees or close to refrigerator temperature. And then we have to submit this every day to the to the different centers for their acceptance. We will be needing three days or two days after for the results. This is the best way to identify patients who are infected with the virus. So all the results are submitted to the City Health of Valenzuela to maintain the confidentiality of the patients. That will be the end of the examination process.

MAYOR REX: So significance of what we're doing right now, given that we have 537 PUIs and PUMs, theoretically if we would work on all of them, in which we will, it will take us 20 days to finish the database, that's the minimum, minimum of 25. If we can expand it 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 numbers namin ng PUI and PUM's will drastically go very very low, as in as far as zero na. Kasi technically na-test na sila lahat eh. Only new cases will be tested when called in. And then you'll see either our positives go up or hopefully it just stays there. Now, remember the national government has been pushing for central isolation units wherein they want to keep all the PUIs, all the PUM's right before the lifting of the ECQ. Can you imagine number one, we're going to house large swaths, if they have been tested, large swaths of the population by mere suspect? Meaning we haven't really tested all of them but we're going to isolate them and wait for them for 14 days. That's logistically harder because we have to feed them, the logistics will be massive. The resources that the City government will have to come up to will also be massive. Assuming they test the 500 plus and they keep on increasing by end of the ECQ baka 1,000 na yung lalagay namin doon. We won't have enough beds even if I prepared 3 isolation units, we'll have to feed them, we'll have to monitor them. At least now, the resources can be targeted meaning we identify the positives, we either put them there if they are; a) asymptomatic or mild symptoms we can isolate them in our centralized isolation units. Those who will develop severe symptoms we can bring them to the hospitals. So that's the significance, it's making it more focused, targeting the resources where it's needed the most. As we speak right now the teams are already out doing the swabbing but the two that gave consent are actually frontliners. They are both nurses, not necessarily working from Valenzuela-based hospitals. One is working for a big hospital outside the city and the other one is working for a national hospital within the city. Both are nurses. Case number one, we are swabbing her entire family. Case number two, we will be swabbing the individual because it's the husband we are testing. Case number one is the entire family of the frontliner, the second one will be the husband of a frontliner who was also exposed. It's Valenzuela saying that we're here for our frontliners that's why we're also in the mix on those who are going to be tested.

Q: The second nurse that you are testing, her husband?

MAYOR REX: The husband yung ite-test natin.

Q: What about the nurse?

DR. EXCONDE: She's already admitted.

MAYOR REX: But the husband is at home and he's anxious to know if he's also positive or negative.

Q: The first one, the family, how many members?

DR. EXCONDE: Two members, the husband and the son, only two.

MAYOR REX: But these are the two that gave consent for us to go in and video and the rest would rather stay anonymous but we're testing them already so 25 only.

Q: Sir clarification, yung sa case, meaning dahil sabi ni Doctor, admitted si Nurse, meaning he or she is COVID positive? That's why you are testing the husband?


Q: And doon po sa case number one, the family is being tested because the frontliner is positive also?


Q: I would like to clarify who are we going to test, kasi at this time ang guidelines, frontliners or frontline healthworkers who are showing symptoms, are we testing all healthworkers?

MAYOR REX: Well yes, that's the significance of it because the local government is already localizing the mass testing. We control the pace, meaning since the local government purchased the test kits, we are also the one that partnered up, had a memorandum of agreement with Medical City. We control the pace of the testing. Doctor Fibras said for the national the turnaround time is 3 days but because of the caseload sometimes it takes 5 to 7 days. So can you imagine the anxiety the person goes through. Number one, sometimes they don't get tested because we're not given enough kits by the DOH. So sometimes if they get tested, their anxiety keeps building up because for 7 days or 8 days they're waiting if they are positive or negative. But that's the beauty of this localized mass testing, we control the pace because the local government owns the test kits. We can come up with our own protocols based on the national framework. Number two, because the guarantee is two days turnaround, mabilis siya, yung anxiety ng tao pwede ng mawala kaagad kasi in two day's time we can give you your test result. Right now, these houses are in lockdown, following the national government's guideline to ensure that they are not leaving the premises. They are all in lockdown. The police and the barangay health response teams are watching over them. The city also provides the necessary daily basic needs. So at least in 48 hours if they know they are negative we remove the lockdown, we re-deploy those resources somewhere else and we don't have to keep on delivering food packs to them cause they can already take care of themselves.

The cost of the testing is 5,150. 2,500 is for the processing. The balance goes to the swab kit, may dalawang klase yan, the swab kit, the extraction kit and the test kit-it's called an acid kit it's one of the FDA approved ones. The 2,500 goes to the Medical City to process or processing fee. The balance will be broken down into the three kits. From my understanding, I was told that the WHO average costing nila is 5,500 per test.

Q: Mayor ito bang test kit natin were the ones developed by the UP-NIH? Kasi yun yung mas mura po diba?

DR. FIBRA: The kits we are using now is a commercial kit, it's developed in Korea because the NIH kits are still in the process of further studies... although they have an FDA approval already. We have to be very careful in the selection and these are already FDA approved. So with the regards to health workers it is noted in the WHO standards, one way to prevent the transmission of this infection is to make sure the healthcare workers are not carriers of the infection. So it is just wise and prudent to keep them in monitoring also cause they are the ones who take care of our patients.

MAYOR REX: From my understanding, we're still trying to figure things out. PCR based test kits are also work in a specific PCR machines, like a lock and a key. So now The Medical City informed us that the acid kit that we bought is something that's compatible with them but they are also reserved kits ahead of time. This was part of our first round of approvals, way, way ahead of the FDA approval. Number two, the synchronization with the PCR machines of The Medical City actually started already and these kits are compatible with their PCR's. From my understanding, not all PCR kits can just work with any PCR machines. The PCR machine and the PCR kit must synchronize and harmonize with each other in order to be able to do the processing.

DR. FIBRA: This has already been validated and it has a FDA approval and the Medical City already is already certified for COVID-19 virus. This is already recognized.

Q: Ano yung kaibihan sa Marikina? Why for Valenzula it's a go?

DR. FIBRA: For the Marikina I think they set-up their own testing center and it is in the process of trying to develop it to the stage level five so they can perform the testing so they will be allowed testing. For us, we did not develop laboratory because it will take time for us to develop this. even large medical centers are not capable of doing this COVID-19 testing. It's a very dangerous virus, it should be well contained so it will not spread in the air. That's the difference now, we have a private hospital that is capable to perform the testing as certified by the Department of Health and inspected RITM and the WHO together with the Department of Health.

MAYOR REX: Para ma-brief natin sila, diba remember some of the kits have multiple genes diba?

DR. FIBRA: Okay they are different types of kits and basically, we need to have two of the three genes before it can say that it is positive. So if you only have one gene determine then you should have another test, another type of gene that should be positive before you can say that a patient is positive. So it's basically two of the three gene targets should be positive in order to tag it positive. Otherwise, you'll have to repeat swabbing if we suspect that there is COVID positive. There will be a lag period before we do the swabbing again.

MAYOR REX: But in this case the acid kits have three genes already-

DR. FIBRA: And for this kit, the kits that we purchased already has three target genes. So, when they run it they already assess the three target genes so when the result will come out it's already assessed whether you are positive or negative.

MAYOR REX: Confirmatory na siya?

DR. FIBRA: Yes its confirmatory.

Q: Ilan yung capacity natin to test? Ano yung target natin to test?

MAYOR REX: Yun ang binanggit ko kanina, ang target natin is 537, right now. That's a breakdown of 242 PUI's, 295 PUM's. but of course daily we get calls no. so we'll keep on adding but the immediate goal target is the 537. Hindi pa kasama diyan yung mga frontliners. We will have to run our numbers on our frontliners working in Valenzuela emergency hospital and we also offer this assistance to the Department of Health hospital here in the Valenzula Medical Center. So we'll have to consolidate a list pa. now the 537 if we will do 25 a day, like I said in 20 days tapos na siya. Right before the lifting of the ECQ. So Valenzuela will have a picture as to ilan lang talaga yung positive namin and then sila na lang siguro yung either i-house lockdown kung iilan lang yan or dalhin sa centralized isolation unit kung mas marami sila. Diba in cities we publish our report on the numbers of PUI's and PUM's? So expect the numbers to keep on going down. Hopefully huwag umakyat yung positive but there's a chance but at least it's knowing the truth.

Q: What is the capacity of Valenzuela to test? How many test kits do we have?

MAYOR REX: We reserved 1,000 test kits per week. Tuloy-tuloy yun for as long as we need it.

Q: Mayor doon sa 20 days na target natin, factored in na rin po ba yung capacity ng Lung Center of the Philippines?

MAYOR REX: Hindi, because we don't control that pace. Why did we go through this? Because number one, we understand that the Lung Center and the national government hospitals are so loaded with everybody's case. I know they have good intentions when they say the results will come back in 2 to 3 days but sometimes it reaches 7 to 8 days. And it's not their fault, it's clearly because everybody is having their test processed there. So we did not factor that in because we want to use our own pace, meaning we set our own time table, we set our direction for ourselves.

Q: So Mayor makakabawas na kayo sa load?

MAYOR REX: Makakabawas na kami. Isa yun sa benepisyo nito. Pwede na siguro maugnay yung iba pang mga siyudad dahil meron na kaming sariling mekanismo in place.

Q: Walk-through sa process bakit nagawa niyo ito compared sa iba na hindi pa nagawa?

MAYOR REX: Well to be fair sa iba, iba-iba kami ng set-up. Napansin mo sa Marikina they were building their lab? That's another route. Pero early on sabi ko nga hindi naman ako doktor. Noong pumutok to, nag-meeting kami, ang sabi ng mga doktor namin they want to build a lab. That's what they wanted originally din. I said "I want to build a lab" but she explained to me that it's a painstaking set-up and it is not to be done right now because mahirap and madi-distract kami. from my understanding Marikina matagal na nila ginawa yun eh, even before the lockdown ginagawa na nila yun so they were ahead of us. So, I'm hoping they can get their labs accredited soon para Marikina City can get its own lab running on the ground. S we we're Lleft with the device na we cannot build our lab now. But that doesn't mean we're not going to do it in the future pagkatapos nito. We figured when they approved the FDA to this, we called all of them up actually. Noong una I think walo yan, walong kits yung in-approve. We called them one by one and then the next part of it is finding the laboratory that will process that. Doon pumasok si Senator Sherwin, because he was on-board. He was helping us call laboratories kung saan papasok tong mga kits na to. Number one very limited pa ang number of labs eh. Hindi ko matandaan kung ilan lang yun. Number two, uulitin ko parang lock and key, hindi porket may PCR machine doon mate-test na kaagad. Mahaba rin yung evaluation process kung magkatugma sila. Parang may compatibility concern and bumagsak sa Medical City because of the process of elimination. Yung iba did not have biosafety lab level 5 So tanggal kaagad sa list yun. Yung iba may PCR pero wala namang kapasidad. These are recovering hospitals. And then, pangatlong naging criteria is saan po ba itong kit na nahanap natin? Bakit itong kit? Like I said, I spoke to everybody doon. The owner of the distributor is a doctor also, si Congressman Ferjenel Biron. So he's a friend in Congress. Alam niya kung kailan dadating, ilan ang dadating so itong supplier na ito alam nya kaagad kung ano ang gagawin.

Q: Sir, having said that, sa lahat po ng government ano po ang pwedeng gawin Sen?

SEN WIN: Dadagdagan ko lang ang sinabi ni Mayor. Siguro ang pinaka-importanteng tanong bakit importante itong localized mass testing? Kung napakinggan niyo po ang sinabi ni Mayor Rex, i-implement namin ito sa lahat ng aming PUIs at PUMs at sa lahat ng aming frontliners. Mahalaga ito dahil naniniwala kami na para malabanan naming itong virus at bumalik na sa normal ang aming pamumuhay, dapat ang mga lokal na pamahalaan ang mag-implement ng mass testing dahil sila ang nakakaalam kung saan ang lahat ng PUIs, PUMs at frontliners. Importante na malaman natin kung sino-sino ang may virus sa aming lugar dahil dito lang natin maibabalik sa normal ang ating syudad. For example, tinignan ko ang data. Out of 33 barangays namin, 32 meron kaming PUIs at PUMs. Pero hindi ibig sabihin nito na meron silang positive COVID pero naka-lockdown din sila. Ang sinabi ko dito, hanapin kung sino ang may positive, pwede silang meron, pwede ring wala. The only way to do that is through mass testing. Wala kayong mass testing, sa mahabang panahon, suspects sila na merong COVID. Kaya ang aming goal is to have a mass testing in our city but the problem is nang tinatrabaho namin ito, natuklasan namin na ang aming mga national hospitals ay punong-puno. It's either hindi sila ready, ibig sabihin ang laboratory nila ay hindi pa accredited. Or number two, punong-puno sila. Ibig sabihin, inuuna muna nila ang mga national hospitals at national cases. In other words, kaming mga nasa local, second priority kami. But then again, naniniwala kami na importante na ang ating mga lokal na pamahalaan ay nagma-mass testing dahil alam nila kung nasaan ang PUIs at PUMs. Hindi naman alam ni Gen. Galvez kung saan sila eh, alam ni Mayor kung saan ito lahat. So importante talaga na ang local ay gumagawa ng mass testing. Having said that, itong relationship naming with the Medical City is the first ever local mass testing na ang partner natin ay private hospital. Importante din ito dahil hindi na natin ipilit na ang national hospitals ang mag-test dahil punong-puno na sila. In other words, importante rin na ang DOH ay nag-aaccredit ng mas marami pang private hospitals dahil kung mas maraming private hospitals ang gagawa nito, maa-unload natin ang problema ng national hospitals gaya ng PGH, Lung Center, NKTI. Hindi sila ma-oover burden. Ibang governments na ang gagawa ng sarili nilang paraan para magkaroon ng mass testing so importante na naa-accredit ng DOH ang mga local ang private hospitals dahil marami yan eh. In fact, kung kailangang bigyan ng gamit, dahil under the Bayanihan Act, pwedeng tumulong ang government na magbigay ng mga gamit, magbigay tayo ng mga laboratory equipment sa mga local laboratories para magkaroon sila ng sariling mass testing. Ngayon, ang pinakaimportanteng tanong is, pagdating ng Monday, we will be entering our extended ECQ, then we have 18 days before we decide whether to extend it or not. Yun ang pinakaimportanteng tanong on Monday. Do we extend it again or we don't? The only answer to that is if we do the mass testing, 10,000 mass testings a day. Kung hindi natin magagawa yan, hindi natin mahahanap ang PUIs at PUMs sa buong bansa. Kung hindi natin sila mahanap, kapag nagbukas ang ating ekonomiya, ibig sabihin, payagan na nating mamasahe, open na MRT at buses, we will have PUIs, PUMs or even potential cases na nakikipaghalubilo sa ibang tao at kakalat po ulit ang virus. The challenge on Monday, in the next 18 days, dapat mag-ramp up ang volume ng mass testing all the way up to 10,000 tests a day. That is a very important milestone dahil kung hindi, hindi natin malalaman kung ano ang totoong sitwasyon ng ating bansa.

Q: Clarification lang po dahil in the past virtual presscon of DOH, they've been saying na possible raw ma-reach ang 10,000 testing capacity by end of April pa. With your statement, are you saying na dapat i-extend pa?

SEN WIN: They have to do it before end of April. Dapat 24 hours a day, seven days a week ang kanilang accreditation. Kung kailangang bumili ka ng mga laboratory equipment, dahil sa experience namin, hindi na problema ngayon ang test kits eh. Ang problema, saan mo dadalhin para i-process? Hindi ganun kasimple na magtetest ka then lalabas na ang resulta, you have to bring it to a very specialized laboratory para i-process. Dun tayo nagkakaproblema ngayon so again, under the Bayanihan Act, pwedeng gawin ng ating pamahalaan na bigyan na lang ng laboratory equipment ang mga localized hospitals para pwede silang mag-test locally. It's really a big challenge but it is important that we have localized mass testing so that we will determine and find all those positive cases before we open up our economy, before we lift the lockdown. Kapag ni-lift natin ang lockdown, meron tayong mga silent carriers. 50% ng COVID positive are asymptomatic. Ibig sabihin, wala silang nararamdaman, umiikot sila pero kapag nakahawa sila ng senior citizen, dun tayo magkakaroon ng problema dahil almost 80% ng mga senior citizen ay nagkakaroon ng fatalities. So kino-connect ko lang itong ginagawa natin dito dahil nakita namin at a local level, kung mahahanap namin ang lahat ng positive, pwede naming i-contain. Kagaya ng sinabi ko, 32 out of 33 ay PUI's at PUM's pero hindi ibig sabihin meron kaming positive, baka konti lang. Then we can contain it at a house level or street level. Hindi na buong Valenzuela. Kung kaya naming i-contain ang buong bahay, mas maganda para hindi na ma-contain ang buong syudad naming at pwede nang magnegosyo ang iba. Then we can actually have the economy moving basta alam natin kung nasaan itong mga COVID positives.

Q: Hindi naman ho observation lang dito sa Valenzuela but in other cities as well, ngayon pa lang, hindi pa nga tapos ang unang deadline ng ECQ ng gobyerno, pero andami na pong tao sa labas?

SEN WIN: Dapat arestuhin yun. Arestuhin ang mga lumalabas ng kanilang bahay tapos nag-iinuman, kumakain, nagsosocialize, bawal yun. Pwede lang sila lumabas kung bibili sila ng gamot, pagkain at hospital. Other than that, bawal. In fact, dito sa amin, marami kaming pinapaaresto at pinagmumulta ng P5,000 dahil may ordinansa kaming ganun. In other words, magiging walang saysay itong ginagawa natin kung ngayon pa lang ay may lumalabag na sa ECQ.

Q: No need for other new legislations for that Sir?

SEN WIN: Hindi na. The police are mandated to do whatever they can to prevent people from going out of their homes. We have to remember na kaya nga natin ginagawa yan ay para hindi magkahawaan. Ang kalaban natin dito ay ang hawaan eh. So ginagawa ng police yan para hindi magkahawaan.

Q: Kay Mayor po, aside from Medical City, may kino-consider pa po ba kayong private hospitals to expand your testing capacity?

MAYOR REX: We are but again, very limited kasi ang selection. Ayaw nating punuin sila dahil may sarili silang mga pasyente. Or yung kit na binili natin, hindi compatible sa PCR nila. Pero yung nabanggit ko kanina na FDA kits, we're talking to them. In fact, nag-visit na sila dito. We're exploring a Plan B para mas mapabilis pa ang mass testing. As soon as they get everything in place then we would be able to sign up with them.

Q: Meron po tayong 1,000 test kits a week, meron din po ba tayong enough supplier of swab kits?

MAYOR REX: Set yun. Meaning, hiwalay pa rin ang procurement niya pero ang usapan namin is kasama lahat so swab kit, test kit, extraction kit.

Q: Continuous plan po ba ito?

MAYOR REX: Yes. In fact, the purchase order for the first round has already been sent out to them kaya nakakakuha na kami ng kits.

Q: Sen. Win, isa na lang pong pahabol. Sinabi po ng DOH na hindi nila nire-recommend ang misting, yung pag-disinfect. Ano po ang reaction ninyo?

SEN WIN: Actually, nakakagulat yun dahil andaming local governments at private organization ang nag-implement ng misting. Of course, with respect to the decision of the DOH, but sana maagang inilabas ito no dahil maraming mga ospital, malls, local governments ang gumawa nito. So this is where timing is very important. Kagaya nitong rapid test, noong in-accredit ang rapid test, wala pag guidelines kung paano gamitin ang rapid test so naunang gawin ang accreditation kesa sa guidelines. Nandyan na ang produkto, hindi mo pa alam kung paano gagamitin. Di ba importante na mauna ang guidelines para alam mo kung paano gagamitin? In fact, on how to use the rapid test, pakonti-konti ang paglabas ng guidelines sa pagmomonitor namin kasi we were also interested in the rapid test. Ang PCR test is about P10,000, ang rapid test is about P500 so mga 10% of the cost. From the DOH's standpoint, it makes sense na gamitin yun pero dahil walang guidelines, paano namin gagamitin yun? Test kami ng test wala palang sense yun. That's why we decided to stick with the PCR test dahil 100% accurate yun. My point of the matter is all of these things should be ahead. Yung mga guidelines na ganito dapat nauuna yan - misting, rapid test, pagsi-spray sa kalsada dapat may guidelines yan dahil hindi natin alam kung effective talaga o hindi. All of these guidelines that the local governments use should be released ahead of time para malaman nila kung paanong gagawin. Ngayon uulitin ko, ang laban na ito ay laban sa lokal. Importante na ang ating mga local governments, alam nila kung anong ginagawa nila, paano i-measure ang ginagawa nila at may guidelines silang sinusundan dahil ang laban na ito ay hindi sa PICC o sa Philippine Arena, ang laban na ito ay nasa kalye, nasa bahay, nasa barangay.

Q: Clarification lang po sa pag-consider sa rapid test kits, nasaang level na po ang Valenzuela sa pagconsider nito when the DOH has said it na it could cause a false negative?

DR. FIBRA: Yung rapid test kits, dalawa yan. One is to identify the viral antigens and the other one is to identify the anti-bodies against the COVID virus. actually, pinag-aaralan naming itong maigi bago namin sabihin sa local government na okay na. Sa aking palagay, may mga limitasyon itong rapid testing. When I checked in sa WHO standards, they do not actually recommend the rapid testing. The gold standard is still the PCR. So ngayon, ano ang place ng test kit na ito? Sa nabasa ko sa WHO, if you can identify the anti-bodies, it does not give you the assurance that you are totally protected from the infection. So nasaan ngayon siya? There are cases na cross reaction. For example, if you have the anti-bodies, it does not absolute tell you that you were infected previously by the COVID-19 virus because there are cross-infection in this type of kit. So how can we now say that you are protected from the virus? We have to study first, what is the role of antibodies testing at this level? We are still studying it. I'm still reviewing, saan papasok ang antibodies testing and we have to be very careful about this because baka kasi ma-false identify natin like a false positive or a false negative. Then there will be a bridge in the consolidation of this program. So we have to be careful about this for now.

Q: Following the announcement of the DOH kahapon that they do not recommend anymore the large-scale misting of disinfectants, dito po sa Valenzuela, at what scale did you stop na?

MAYOR REX: Immediately after we got word from the DOH to stop. What we use naman was yung spray tanks which can be used for other purposes naman. We don't have those chambers kasi dahil may reservations na ang aming mga local doctors doon. Now, moving on sa ating topic on Monday. We will launch our Wave 2 of food packs. This time around, yung wave 1 namin is 112,000 to cover the poorest of the poor families. On Monday, we will release 215,000 food vouchers. This will now cover virtually everyone in Valenzuela City pati na rin yung mga stranded workers and stay in workers because we understand that this time around the middle-class families of Valenzuela are also hurting. We know that some of them have already gone through their savings so we already anticipated that in advance. That is why we leveled up the number. It will take us one to seven days to distribute house to house the food vouchers. But simultaneous to that, if I'm not mistaken, from day 5, the redemption will start already and it will take another 7-8 days to redeem their food packs to maintain the schedule na may social distancing.

Q: After ng frontliners, PUMs at PUIs, OFWs, who else are targeted?

DR. EXCONDE: For this mass testing, we've targeted the following: One, the PUIs, then the PUMs, then the health workers who are mostly exposed to the virus. Then after that, the other frontliners, not the health workers but other frontliners. For the PUIs naman, priority namin ang those with medical ailments.

Q: Aren't we adopting the Korea style prior to mass testing?

DR. EXCONDE: Well, pinag-aaralan pa natin yan no. If we have enough test kits, why not? Pero tapusin muna natin ang priority groups.

Q: After po na may mag-positive, sino ang pupunta sa isolation units natin at sino pupunta sa ospital?

DR. EXCONDE: Well, depende kung anong klaseng positive yan. If its severe cases, we have no choice but to send them to the hospital but for the minor cases and asymptomatic, we will prepare our local hospitals to admit those mild cases and asymptomatic cases.

Q: Yung capacity ng isolation areas?

MAYOR REX: We have two with 70 beds each. Yung Balai Banyuhay namin has 70 beds and ang astrodome namin ay 70 beds din. Now, we are now preparing for the third core emergency hospitals to probably handle yung mild positives. But hopefully, with this direction, we won't be exhausting all those beds kasi mata-target lang talaga natin ang number of people. In fact, 36 lang ang positive natin. May house lockdown eh. Instead of bringing them to one area, we can continue locking down the houses. And remember, yung mga naka-lockdown ngayon won't remain lockdown forever. In a couple of days, kapag wala ng symptoms, we can do the testing again then move it to another house. Multiple combinations can apply. The important thing is, once we know the real score because of our localized testing, we will know how to deploy the appropriate resources of the local government.

SEN WIN: Just to give you an idea, ito nakuha ko lang this morning from La Salle Southeast Asia Research Center Hub. Nagpadala sila sa Southeast Asia kung ilang ang nag te-test. Sa Singapore, it's 11,110 per one million. Sa Vietnam, 1,170 per one million. Sa atin, about 224 tests per one million. Singapore and Vietnam never closed their economy, hindi sila nag-lockdown doon but they are testing a lot. The best practices na nakikita natin, the more we test, the lesser probability na dapat kang mag-lockdown. Ibig sabihin dito, alam mo kung nasaan ang lahat ng may COVID positive at sila lang ang imo-monitor mo. That's the strategy na gusto naming gawin dito sa Valenzuela only at a smaller scale. Hopefully, kung ma-prove itong effective, pwede itong gawin on a national scale per LGU. Again, ang aming paniniwala, sa lockdown na ito ay LGU ang dapat nasa unahan eh. Kung mako-contain natin sa LGU level pa lang, hindi na dapat dalhin yan sa containment areas kagaya ng PICC at Philippine Arena. Dito pa lang, pwede na nating ma-contain. So again, sa Monday ang pinaka-importanteng tanong ay by April 30, do we extend or do we not? That can only be answered kung meron tayong mass testing na ang capacity ay 10,000 a day. So by hook or by crook, dapat habulin yan ng DOH dahil tingin ko personally, hindi na kaya ng mga kababayan natin na mag-extend ulit. Maraming magugutom. Maraming mga bata ang magiging malnourished at marami tayong mga kababayan na mahihirapan talaga.

Q: Are we talking about individual test or test as a whole?

SEN WIN: Test as a whole. Kasi right now, ang testing natin is only 1,200 per day. Yung 10,000 na yun ay minimum pa yun ha. For our population, it should be more para malaman natin kung nasaan ang mga COVID positive. Dapat lahat ng PUMs at PUIs sa Metro Manila ay tinitest na rin para malaman na natin.

Q: We are talking about 10,000 individuals being tested?

SEN WIN: Yes, 10,000 individuals as supposed to 1,200 per day.

Q: You are providing free COVID-19 test kits whether positive yung individual but are you also going to provide another testing just to prove is already negative after the treatment?

MAYOR REX: Yes, kasama na yun sa protocol ng DOH that we are following eh. We'll see through that patient from the start to the end. If they need to be confined, then we will help them with that also.

Q: Ang sabi kasi ng DOH, hindi kailangang i-test kung asymptomatic ang patient? So sa Valenzuela po?

DR. EXCONDE: We have our own protocol. We want to do mass testing. Unlike the DOH, because of the limited number of the test kits, sabi nila dito muna tayo. Pero in Valenzuela, we have our own protocols.

MAYOR REX: Walang masama siguro if we're being aggressive. Yung protocols na gusto nga namin for our frontliners is regular testing eh because they can be carriers. So sa national because of limited resources. Tayo, after we are done with the PUIs and PUMs, we can keep testing paulit-ulit kung kinakailangan ang mga frontliners. Very aggressive kami diyan kasi hawak namin ang kits.

[end recording]

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