What do We Mean When We Say ‘Mass Testing’?
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, May 22, 2020 5:53pm
Art by Dani Elevazo
Flattening the curve means reducing the number of people who will contract the virus. It would be hard to do so if we are unaware of people who have COVID-19 without knowing it. As there are citizens who are asymptomatic--positive for virus but no symptoms--and haven’t been tested, it will be difficult for us to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The solution to this health issue is to conduct mass testing. But as Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roques said, it will be impossible to test everyone in the country. It will be just a “targeted testing” of up to 2% of the population. But what do we really mean when we demand mass testing?
We don’t really require the authorities to test every single Filipino--it will require millions of test kits to do that. By mass testing, we mean testing all the Persons Under Monitoring/Investigation. In this way, if a patient is confirmed positive, health authorities will be able to trace the contact history of the person as soon as possible.
Mass testing also involves the people who are in close contact with a COVID-19 positive. And of course, our medical workers and other frontliners should be regularly checked, too. Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian reported 10 Valenzuela frontliners have been tested positive and all of them are asymptomatic.
Disturbing news - we found out that 10 members of our Valenzuela frontliners tested positive under our mass testing program. All are asymptomatic. Kung hindi namin sila na test, hindi namin alam na positive sila. There are probably more out there roaming around under the MECQ.— Sherwin Gatchalian (@stgatchalian) May 16, 2020
Imagine how many people with the same cases are roaming around, unknown to the fact that they have COVID-19. This endangers their loved ones and the community. And for the record, mass testing does not prioritize the VIPs or politicians.
Unless the authorities test all of the frontliners, PUMs, PUIs, and the people in their contact history, it will take a while before we can flatten the curve. No matter how long ECQs may be, without mass testing, COVID-19 will continue to be a threat to the society and economy. And so we’ll say it again: #MassTestingNow.