MANILA – A National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) official said there is no need for mass testing, or by its definition testing the 110 million Philippine population, amid the rising coronavirus infection in the country.
In a Palace briefing Tuesday, NTF deputy chief implementer and testing czar Vivencio Dizon said taking the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) tests should be guided by professionals or specific protocols set by experts.
“Dapat ding maipaliwanag natin nang kaunti itong mga nagiging panawagan ngayon tungkol sa mass testing na ang pagkakaintindi natin ay dapat i-test ang lahat ng 110 million Filipinos. Sa buong mundo, ang mga eksperto ay unanimous na ang mass testing ay hindi nirerekomenda (We should also explain a bit the current calls about mass testing that in our understanding is to test all 110 million Filipinos. Around the world, experts are unanimous that mass testing is not recommended),” Dizon said.
He added the government’s approach for Covid-19 screening is based on the advice of health experts, which is risk-based and targeted testing.
Dizon also quoted a statement of Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against Covid-19 (HPAAC) on mass testing, saying “indiscriminate mass testing of asymptomatic individuals using tests with sub-optimal sensitivity is neither feasible nor practical”.
Results of indiscriminate mass testing could also lead to “complacency and a false sense of security if test results are negative, or on the other hand, false-positive results can lead to undue panic, stigma, and unnecessary isolation”, the HPAAC statement said.
“Ang problema kasi sa concept ng mass testing ay… ako mismo ang pwedeng mag-decide kung kailan ako dapat magpa-test. Ang sinasabi ng mga eksperto, guided ‘yong desisyon na ‘yon — guided either by professionals or guided by very specific protocols set by professionals and experts (The problem with the concept of mass testing is… I myself can decide when I should take the test. According to the experts, the decision should be guided — guided either by professionals or guided by very specific protocols set by professionals and experts),” Dizon said.
He added testing alone could not prevent the spread of Covid-19, but should be dealt with with strict implementation of minimum health standards like wearing of face mask and face shield, frequent hand washing and disinfection, and proper physical distancing.
Citing global data, Dizon said countries with high numbers of Covid-19 testing are also those with high numbers of Covid-19 infection and deaths.
“Halimbawa po ang Amerika, number one sya sa testing, number one din po s’ya sa cases, number one po sya sa deaths. Ang India po, number two sa testing, number three sa cases, number four sa deaths. At sa Europa naman po, ang Ingglatera number four sa testing, number six sa cases, at number five sa deaths (For example, America is number one in testing; it is also number one in cases and deaths. India, number two in testing, number three in cases, number four in deaths. And in Europe, England is number four in testing, number six in cases, and number five in deaths),” he said.
The testing czar added the government has ramped up its Covid-19 screening activities to detect those that contracted the virus.
During the period of Covid-19 surge, Dizon said the country is averaging over 50,000 tests per day, with half of the testing activities are in National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, or the ‘NCR Plus’ bubble.
He added the government also augmented the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests with 30,000 antigen testing daily.
Aside from boosting the testing capacity, the government also ramps up establishing isolation facilities and strengthening contact tracing activities. (PNA)