Even before the so-called “mass testing” which is part of the O-Plan of the city and the province, there seems to be a disconnect on how this should be implemented.
Pronouncements from local leaders seem to indicate that they have no baseline as they are calling for “volunteers” from among city residents to have themselves listed as candidates for mass testing for as long as they fall under the criteria set.
First on their list are people who are close contacts of positive patients. Huh? This group is supposed to be under the existing contact trace list of the City Health Office, unless that list is non-existent.
What is more dangerous is if they fall under this category, they are supposedly considered as COVID suspects. Forcing them out of isolation just to line up and be listed for testing may lead to a spread since you do not know their status.
The second group are the immunocompromised or have pre-existing conditions. Again, these are the very people that we’ve warned in the past not to go out freely as they are prone to infection. We are supposed to assume that these people know better and stayed at home.
Yet now, we are asking them to go out and get listed?
The third group are those exhibiting symptoms. This is crazier as these are the very people that we encourage to go on isolation. And how will this group be tested? Will the team go to their homes or will they be ferried to a testing center? Just thinking about symptomatics going out of their homes is nerve-wracking.
The last group tagged as “vulnerable individuals” include senior citizens, pregnant women, PWDs, BPO employees, PNP, city employees and frontliners. Oh well. While I agree that they fall under the category of vulnerable, why encourage them for testing if they have not been exposed at all. The frontliners though must be prioritized as they are the most-exposed while working.
There has to be a baseline for the 5,000 individuals to be tested. Priority should be those who are already in the contact trace list (I hope that exists) and the rest will be random testing of individuals in high density areas identified as hotspots of COVID cases.
One day to go before mass testing will be implemented and if this is how we execute the plan, we are just wasting resources and we will never be able to get a scientific data on where most of the infections are coming from. Calling for volunteers in the mass testing program may create a much worse aftermath.
We need to bring in medical experts to guide us on how best to implement mass testing. This should not be politicized and must be used as reference on how we should move forward with the data we cull from the testing.
Many criticize mass testing as a futile exercise especially if it is not complemented with a longer lockdown. But I still believe this is worth doing for as long as we are not remiss in reminding those who will be tested to follow through with strict isolation till results are out.
Some doctors who felt their call for a longer timeout was ignored turned to social media to express their disappointment and to announce that they are temporarily closing down their clinics. Who can blame them?
Mayor Bing himself admitted that medical staff in our hospitals are in a dangerous level as many are on quarantine for testing positive while a number have resigned or gone AWOL.
Some even criticized Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran for being an alarmist by stating that our health system in the city is about to collapse and our crematoriums are full. But that is the truth and there is no better way to say it to emphasize that if we do not take things seriously and follow the minimum health protocols, it will collapse.
The fact that a frontliner had to die because he was deprived of emergency care by overwhelmed hospitals is evidence that we are on the verge of collapsing. The death of Jesryl Bancaya really saddened me because it shows that we have failed our frontliners. CLMMRH failed to allegedly provide even his much needed oxygen, making them wait for two hours inside an ambulance parked in front of the hospital. Whether that’s true or not must be investigated because COVID or not, no one deserves to be refused emergency care.
As to crematoriums, even the family of City Administrator Em Ang had to wait in line for her nephew’s cremation as there were seven cases ahead of them. It may not all be COVID but because of the restrictions, many opt for cremation so they can still do a proper burial with family and friends when this is all over.
COVID is real. Figures showed that last week alone, we saw a 75 percent increase in cases. Is this not alarming? If you think not, then wait till it hits you or someone close to you because it will come if we do not change our mindset.*