Saturday, August 8, 2020

Rep. Salceda: House Prepared To Boost Testing, Tracing For COVID-19


The House of Representatives is prepared to authorize the allotment of additional resources for testing, tracing, and preparing hospitals for surge capacity in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, a House leader said on Monday.

Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, House ways and means committee chair, gave the assurance following a record high single-day increase of 2,434 new confirmed Covid-19 cases registered on July 5.

Salceda said his office has been monitoring Covid-19 related data to anticipate the potential costs of increasing testing and tracing capacity, as well as preparations for expanding the capacity of treatment centers for the disease.

He noted that based on daily testing rates, the Philippines falls within the 10-percent positive rate that Harvard public health experts identified as the ceiling to determine whether a country is doing enough tests, and the 3-percent gold standard for testing that South Korea has set.

“So we’re doing so-so, and can do better. We are prepared to take up proposals from the Executive to help us improve these numbers,” Salceda said. “I also had conversations with the Testing, Tracing, and Treatment Chief, Secretary Vince Dizon, some days ago, and he assured me that there will be mass testing sites that will be open to the public soon.”

He suggested that mass testing be implemented in areas of strategic economic importance, such as the National Capital Region, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao, as soon as possible.

He also emphasized that preparing hospitals and treatment centers for Covid-19 surges will be key to maintaining consumer and business confidence, noting that the House can accommodate requests for Covid-19-related health expansion.

“As I said before, we will have to steel the nerves of our people. They will have to feel assured that we have their back. It’s hard to do that if they keep fearing that, if they get sick, they will have nowhere to go to get treated, or that it will cost them a fortune,” he said.

Salceda said the Department of Health should come up with a plan on how to allocate the resources amid the rise on Covid-19 cases.

“Have we conducted stress tests of our health facilities? Where is the mismatch between available capacity and potential risk biggest, and how do we address the mismatch?,” he added. (PNA)

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