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Mandatory PCR testing for vulnerable sectors hurdles 3rd reading passage in Lower House

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The House of Representatives has passed on third reading a proposed legislation that imposes a mandatory conduct of baseline Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing for vulnerable members of the society amid the current COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 240 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill No. 6865 or “An Act Mandating the Conduct of Baseline Polymerase Chain Reaction COVID-19 testing for vulnerable members of the society to stop the transmission of the disease.

Principally authored by former Health secretary and current Senior Deputy Minority Floor Leader Janette Loreto-Garin (Iloilo), HB 6865 imposes a mandatory coronavirus PCR screening for members of the vulnerable sectors such as “patients or health workers with severe or critical symptoms, mild symptoms, and those who demonstrated no symptoms but relevant history of travel contact.”

Meanwhile, those qualified among the non-health workers are the following:

· Personnel manning temporary treatment and quarantine facilities of the government at the local and national levels

· Personnel manning quarantine control points including those from the military and other authorized uniformed service

· National and regional local risk reduction and management teams

· Barangay health workers and officials proving border control

· Jail and prison officials

· Personnel manning the one-stop-shop in the management of returning overseas Filipino

· All those serving at the COVID-19 swabbing center

· Social workers providing amelioration and relief assistance to communities

Under the measure, foreigners that will undergo mandatory screening “shall bear the cost of testing.”

The state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) shall cover the full cost of testing for those qualified including the laboratory fees and other pathological services.

According to Garin, the proposed Frontline Health Workers Welfare Act also provides for free annual influenza vaccinations for health workers and qualified dependents, as well as free pneumococcal vaccination and other mandatory vaccines for health workers.

“Our frontline health workers have sacrificed, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. They brave going to work each day despite the threat of the virus to serve others,” said Garin.

“Sa pangangalaga nila ng ating kalusugan, dapat lang na protektahan din natin sila at bigyan ng maayos na benepisyo,” she added.

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