There is no need for mass testing, that's what our National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) official said amidst the rising coronavirus infection in the Philippines.
By definition, mass testing means testing 110 million Philippine population. NTF deputy chief implementer and testing czar Vivencio Dizon said taking the coronavirus tests must be guided by professionals or follow 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.
The advice of the health experts is what the government’s approach for Covid-19 screening is based on, which is risk-based and targeted testing, he added.
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”, 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.
To prevent the spread of the virus, strict implementation of minimum health standards such as wearing of face mask and face shield, frequent hand washing and disinfection, and proper physical distancing must be observed, testing alone is not enough, he added.
Citing global data, Dizon said countries with high numbers of Covid-19 infection and deaths are also those with high numbers of Covid-19 testing.
“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 government has also ramped up its Covid-19 screening activities to detect those that contracted the virus, the testing czar added.
Dizon said that the Philippines is averaging over 50,000 tests per day during this period of Covid-19 surge, with half of the testing activities are in the NCR Plus bubble.
He added the government also increased the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests with 30,000 antigen testing daily.
Aside from boosting the testing capacity, the government also leveled up their establishing isolation facilities and are strengthening contact tracing activities.
Source: Philippine News Agency (PNA)