• Melo Acuna

Expanded testing assured; Metro Manila bans discrimination vs front-liners and COVID-19 patients

Government to implement expanded testing; Metro Manila, declared COVID-19 anti-discrimination zone

MANILA – The government will now focus on testing individuals at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Norgales in a briefing this morning said included in the tests are persons suspected of having COVID-19, and individuals with relevant history of travel and exposure or contact, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic. Included in the priority for tests are health care workers with possible exposure, regardless whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic.

He also identified those under Sub-Group A are patients or healthcare workers with severe or critical symptoms and people with travel history and contact persons afflicted with COVID-19.

Secretary Nograles also said included in Sub-Group B are patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, have had travel history or got into contact with persons confirmed with COVID-19 and are considered vulnerable.

Included in the Sub-Group C are patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, with travel history and had contact with persons with confirmed COVID-19 while those under Sub-Group D are patients and healthcare workers sans symptoms but with travel history and contact with persons with confirmed COVID-19.

“Due to global shortage of testing kits and limitation in local capacity for testing, there is a need to rationalize available tests and would prioritize sub-groups A and B. However, with the expansion of testing capacity and to ensure healthcare workforce safety, subgroup C will be tested and health workers will be prioritized,” he said.

He explained based on available evidence, real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing is the confirmatory test.

“in the Philippines, this pertains to using RT-PCR test kits that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and validated by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM),” Secretary Nograles explained.

He emphasized the disposal of test kits, including PPEs and other materials used in testing, will comply with guidelines on the management of health care wastes.

In a related development, any form of discrimination against health workers, front liners and individuals with COVIC-19 is prohibited in all 17 cities and municipalities will never be tolerated.

Cabinet Secretary and IATF-EID Spokesperson Karlo Alexie Nograles, in the same press briefing Monday morning said the Department of Interior and Local Governments received a report from local government units in Metro Manila that they passed an anti-discrimination ordinance or executive order in place against discrimination.

In addition to these measures the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) would go after individuals who threaten and discriminate against front liners.

He called on the public and the victims of discrimination to report incidents of this nature to the NBI, an agency under the Department of Justice.

He added there are volunteer lawyer groups willing to provide free legal aid to victims of discrimination. (Melo M. Acuña)

Cabinet Secretary and IATF-EID Spokesperson Karlo Alexei Nograles. (Screen grab from RTV/PCOO)

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