Private sector to launch research initiative on the trend of COVID-19 transmission in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020   •   605

Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship, Jo Concepcion

MANILA, Philippines — The proponents of the privately-funded Project ARK (Antibody Rapid test Kits) is eyeing to expand its rapid testing efforts among private sector employees. 

According to Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship, Jo Concepcion, the group has delivered around 500, 000 rapid test kits to more than 200 private companies nationwide.

Concepcion said this initiative of the private sector is to augment the government’s efforts to test more individuals for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection given that more establishments and businesses are opening with the relaxing of community quarantine regulations. 

Meanwhile, Project ARK is initiating a four-month study on the trend of COVID-19 transmission to determine the effectiveness of the rapid testing efforts being conducted across the country. 

The study will involve 16 cities and municipalities across Metro Manila and Laguna under the supervision of a private research company. 

Every month makikita natin kung nag-i-improve at tumataas ba ang level of infection or bumababa ang level of infection, [Every month, we would be able to observe the level of infection if it is increasing or decreasing]” Concepcion said during the Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday (May 20).

Kung successful ito baka lalaguin natin ito sa buong Luzon and eventually kung may mga donors pa baka kailangan natin yung critical areas within the Philippines, [If this becomes successful, we will expand to cover the entire Luzon region and eventually if more donors will come, then we will be able to reach even the critical areas in the Philippines],” he added.

Concepcion emphasized the importance of massive testing that must be done as industries in the country resume operations.

He insists on the reliability of the rapid test kits as they are also being used among members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG). 

He added that rapid testing somehow helps because the government at present cannot yet afford to administer massive testing using the  real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test. 

A single rapid test kit costs around P450 as compared to one rRT-PCR kit which costs from P4,000 to P8,000 each. 

Kung magsasarado uli ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas, maraming mawawalan ng trabaho. Ngayon halos lahat ng micro and small (enterprises) umiiyak na dahil ang kapital nila nawawala narin, [If the Philippine economy will close again, more people will lose their jobs. At present, micro and small enterpresis are complaining already because even their capital are being used up,] ” Concepcion explained. 

“Ito lang ang pwede naming gawin, itong rapid test, [This is the only thing we can do, the rapid testing],” he added.

But a workers’ group argued that such use of rapid test kits is just a waste of resources.

“If the rapid test is done to clear workers to work, its a waste of money and other resources,” said Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

“Experts are telling us that rapid test is inaccurate because it does not detect the SARS-CoV-2– the virus that causes COVID-19,” he said.

Aside from private companies, Project ARK is also lending support in the rapid testing being conducted among local government employees such as in Quezon City and Makati City. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

WHO urges countries to use “second window of opportunity” to stop COVID-19 transmission

UNTV News   •   March 26, 2020

The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday urged all countries to use the “second window of opportunity” to suppress and stop the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This window of opportunity was created by those countries and regions which introduced unprecedented “lockdown” measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted at a daily briefing, reminding that these measures will not extinguish epidemics on their own.

“Asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement is buying time and reducing the pressure on health systems, but on their own, these measures will not extinguish epidemics. The point of these actions is to enable the more precise and targeted measures that are needed to stop transmission and save lives. We call on all countries who have introduced so-called lockdown measures to use this time to attack the virus,” he said.

Tedros recommended six key actions to enable the more precise and targeted measures.

Specifically, he called on countries to expand, train and deploy health care and public health workforce, implement a system to find every suspected case at community level, and ramp up the production, capacity, and availability of testing equipment.

He also suggested identifying, adapting and equipping facilities for treating and isolating patients, developing a clear plan and process to quarantine contacts, as well as refocusing the whole of government on suppressing and controlling COVID-19.

“We have been saying for more than two months now this virus is public enemy number one. It’s a dangerous virus, and we have been saying to the world that the window of opportunity is narrowing and the time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago. But we still believe that there is an opportunity. I think we squandered the first window of opportunity but we are saying today my message, I made it clear that this is a second opportunity which we should not squander,” said Tedros.

The WHO situation dashboard showed a total of 416,686 cases of COVID-19 were reported worldwide as of 18:00 CET (1700 GMT) Wednesday, as the virus spread to 196 countries and regions.

The global death toll from COVID-19 has climbed to 18,589.

Outside China, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 334,817, among which over 190,000 cases were reported by the four most affected countries with over 30,000 cases each — Italy, the United States, Spain, and Germany. (Reuters)

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