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Valenzuela’s Targeted Mass Testing Results Out, Intensifies Campaign with New Lab Partner
Valenzuela City can now conduct 115 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests per day as it signs a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Inc., April 15, 2020.
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In a press briefing held at Valenzuela City Blood Bank and Volunteer Center, Mayor REX Gatchalian said that the city’s partnership with The Medical City (TMC) allows the city government to process 25 tests a day. With Detoxicare’s facility, the city can now conduct an additional 90 tests every day totaling to 115 tests daily.
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With this new partnership, Mayor REX also said that the city will be able to finish testing all COVID-19 Suspect, Probable cases and frontliners this weekend.
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Since the start of Valenzuela City’s first localized, targeted mass testing last April 11, 2020, Valenzuela now starts to feel the benefits of having timely mass testing results aimed to hopefully “flatten the curve” in the next coming days.  

“This is another happy day for Valenzuela City, in all that is happening…”
Mayor REX Gatchalian expressed during the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Inc. today, April 15, 2020, at the Valenzuela City Blood Bank and Volunteer Center. Having partnered with The Medical City (TMC) providing the City with 25 tests daily, Detoxicare tops it up with an additional of ninety (90) tests per day – totaling to a capacity boost of one hundred fifteen (115) tests taken and processed daily.

Initial results

Last April 13, TMC started to process the first set of targeted COVID-19 tests from Valenzuela City. The twenty (20) persons under investigation (PUIs) were all tested by the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU), visiting them at their homes for the swabbing as to observe precautionary measures on isolation of PUIs.

In less than 48 hours, the test results for the first set came back with two (2) positive COVID-19 cases and eighteen (18) negative cases. The positive cases however were both repeated, verification tests -- were the patients were already confirmed as COVID-19 positive cases on their first test.  

Valenzuela City ensures that both positive patients are being well-monitored. The first patient, a senior citizen with comorbidity, was immediately transferred to a hospital and the second patient, a frontliner from a private hospital outside the city, was transferred to an identified PUI facility of the City.

House lockdowns were now removed on the 18 individuals who tested negative for COVID-19. Resources were also redeployed in some other areas, while Mayor REX assures of aggressive medical intervention on the identified positive COVID-19 cases having a clearer focus on resource allocation.

“The other two that tested positive, we have to maintain the lockdown there. The key point there is we are now going to do more intense or aggressive medical intervention,” Mayor REX stated.

“The concept - targeted resource allocation for positives rather than, just by mere suspect, we are going to lockdown the entire house and just wait. Now, we are doing aggressive interventions,” Mayor REX added.

Later today, the second set of results for the forty (40) individuals who were tested this week came out with five (5) positive COVID-19 cases, all are considered PUMs and are asymptomatic. The 5 cases are now transferred to the City’s isolation unit as a preventive measure.  

Senator WIN Gatchalian also reiterated that all positive COVID-19 cases must be isolated in the local level, realizing that from the initial results of the targeted mass testing, there is better handling and monitoring of cases to further avoid going into another lockdown.

“With the results, we are now gradually finding those who are positive of COVID-19… There is no need for a lockdown, only the person who tested positive will be isolated and will be put on lockdown… I think this [mass testing] should be done by all local governments so we can really find those who have COVID-19 and they can be isolated,” Senator WIN said. 

“All accounted for”

With swab tests being submitted everyday to TMC and soon to Detoxicare, it is expected that Valenzuela City will have no backlog this weekend on all of the initially reported five hundred thirty-seven (537) individuals that must be tested. 

“The key takeaway there is by this weekend… We will no longer have any backlog when it comes to PUMs – we still tested the PUMs. The former PUIs who they now call as Suspect and Probable. All 537 will be fully accounted for,” Mayor REX stated.

To make sure that the 115 tests daily with TMC and Detoxicare are maximized, Valenzuela City further identifies its target population for the localized mass testing to include all public and private hospital frontliners, barangay and health center frontliners, returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), frontliners from the security side and a newly identified vulnerable community – dialysis patients.

“Remember, dialysis patients are all immunocompromised. Recently, a lot of the dialysis centers have been saying that they want all their patients tested first before they can continue with their dialysis… So here in Valenzuela today we are going to launch a major initiative wherein we are going to test all our dialysis patients because we treat them as vulnerable communities that must be taken care of or else either way they will have difficulty. If they will not be tested, they would not be able to continue with their dialysis which would be detrimental for them,” Mayor REX shared.

Clarifying the capacity of tests to be processed by Detoxicare, Mayor REX explained that the new laboratory partner has agreed to process 90 tests daily for the first two (2) weeks, and a guarantee of twenty-five (25) tests after just to “finish the target population and later on stabilize.”

Though experiencing difficulties with supplies in this time of crisis, Detoxicare expressed its appreciation to the City Government of Valenzuela for its readiness to plan ahead and for the anticipation on the effects of the pandemic.

“We would actually like to commend Mayor Gatchalian because as mentioned, supplies are a problem. Even if we have been accredited, we are getting into bottlenecks with the supplies… We really appreciated that they [the City Officials] have looked into this forward thinking to have the supplies,” Dr. Daphne Ang, Head of the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory of Detoxicare, said.

Flattening the curve

With the targeted mass testing in place in Valenzuela City, numbers of COVID-19 cases may either go up or may remain the same as an effect of the continued mass testing. Hoping to “flatten the curve,” results on the ongoing efforts on mass testing  and slowing the spread of the virus might possibly be seen after ten (10) days.

Committed to implement stringent measures consistently throughout the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period, Senator WIN reminded that local governments should not be relaxed on enforcing policies as this would not only endanger a greater population but it would put efforts into waste.

“The ECQ is long, that is maybe why some local governments become more relaxed on implementing [policies]. They have to make sure that they should not only be enforcing the laws in the beginning… We will lose the gains of the first ECQ if we don’t implement the policies,” Senator WIN reminded.

Senator WIN also wishes that the local efforts of the City Government of Valenzuela be translated into a national agenda, willfully sharing the experiences and strategies to other LGUs and the national government.

“We want to translate what we are doing here in Valenzuela into a national agenda or a national strategy… If this is effective we can do this to the whole country… That is really one of our motivations on why we really pursued on the mass testing because we believe that if one local government can do this, it can also be done by the 1,500 plus local governments in the country,” Senator WIN stated.

In the end, harmonizing efforts across different local governments and agencies is a must to keep the daily number of cases at a manageable level, helping reduce the load of hospitals and limit the spread of the virus through community measures.

“They [LGUs] should create their own mass testing, they can partner with laboratories in their vicinities. We are looking at this on a local governance standpoint and how we can translate this experience from the local government all the way to the national,” Senator WIN concluded.

2020-04-15 | By: Angelica R. Porciuncula / Public Information Office

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