Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia has appealed to barangay officials to convince their constituents to be tested for COVID-19.
Leonardia said barangay captains have to convince their constituents to participate in the mass testing, which is free of charge courtesy of the national government, because this is one effective way to identify, trace, isolate, and treat carriers of the virus, slow down the spread of the deadly disease, and protect the families in their barangays, a press release from the city public information office said yesterday.
The mayor made the appeal in light of the “O-Plan: One-Time, Big-Time Mass Testing” on August 28 to 31, initiated by the provincial government of Negros Occidental, to cover 5,000 residents of Bacolod City and another 5,000 from the cities of Silay, Talisay, and Bago, and the town of Murcia, the press release said.
Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests are scheduled on August 28-29 for Bacolod residents, while those from Silay, Talisay, Bago, and Murcia will have their swab tests on August 30-31.
The City Health Office will choose the 5,000 Bacolod residents with the help of the barangay captains, who will initially identify them according to priority guidelines of the Department of Health for Covid testing, the press release said.
Leonardia first agreed to participate in the mass testing in an online meeting Friday with Negros Occidental economic consultant Albee Benitez and other provincial officials.
Benitez conceptualized the program and organized it with the provincial government. Benitez said the mass testing is designed to identify carriers, who are not swabbed or tested because of “slow”, or non-proactive testing strategy, the press release said.
Negros Occidental has the most number of RT-PCR testing laboratories, which makes the conduct of mass testing possible, Benitez said. He said there are five operational laboratories in the province and in Bacolod City, which will all be involved to speed up the processing of the swab specimens so the results can be released in 24 to 48 hours.
“At the moment, the doubling time for Negros Occidental and Bacolod City is less than two weeks. So you can imagine that every month, a 200 percent rate increase will happen in the province,” Benitez said.
“If we don’t do something, that 200 percent will rise to 300 or 400, then we will have a big problem,” he added.
While waiting for the swab test results, a lockdown in the LGUs participating in the mass testing will be implemented to limit the movement of people from August 28-31, and concerned mayors will issue executive orders for this purpose, the press release added.*