Presidential adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion will push for a broad-based COVID-19 testing in parallel with the only detection process allowed by the Department of Health – polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines.
Concepcion is confident former generals – Interior Secretary Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and peace process Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. Chief Implementer of Duterte’s game plan against coronavirus – will have his back when he makes an appeal for a broad testing at the
barangay level using rapid test kits that are cheaper (around $4 each), quicker results (a few minutes compared to PCR which is over a week) and like pregnancy tests could be taken at home.
“I believe Secretary Año and Galvez understand the urgency of test kits…How do we grade the level of safety out there as if it’s like a storm: Is it Signal No. 1, 2, or 3? Is it safe to go out or not,” said Concepcion on ANC News.
“People don’t want to go out now because of this trauma of a people dying, people getting sick. That’s the biggest problem even during the transition (after the lifting of the 30-day Luzon lockdown) – the fear of not wanting to go out will cause a recession. Without testing, you are totally blind.How do we convince Filipinos that it’s safe to go out. After four weeks, it may be safe to go out for about a week at the most. What if it comes back”” said Concepcion.
Concepcion agreed with the Department of Health to validate the rapid
test kits before their deployment but he said it should validate these
immediately considering that the lockdown would be lifted in two
He said the only reason why there was a clamor of mass testing was because of the lack of testing centers to determine the extent of the pandemic as soon as possible.
“Let’s be practical, we are at war with virus. If we are going to be normal after transition, we have to have visibility. How will you get visibility if there is not enough testing centers… (DOH) has to train medical people to run the PCR machines before other testing labs are accredited. It will take months, I doubt in a week we will have one,” said Concepcion.
“We don’t need to test 10 million people, we just need to to do random testing at each barangay to determine the seriousness of the virus in their area. This give people more confidence to go out,” he added.
Without mass testing, Concepcion feared that Filipinos would go out even if the lockdown was lifted because the DOH PCR tests do not give a clear picture of the pandemic because of the limited sample size.
“If we have a lot of testing centers, then let’s not bring these test kits. We are in an emergency situation where we need visibility in this transition. But we don’t have enough testing kits out there to really determine who’s sick and who’s not sick. We may see a surge in the third or fourth week but that may be just aberration because testing just catching up to reality,” he added.