Written by 3:15 pm Editorial

Answered Call for Mass Testing

“To heal as one” is not synonymous to wait for the other ones to be killed or infected by the virus until the vaccine is ready. 

From one case of COVID-19 last January 30, 2020, followed by three cases in February, now it is rapidly increasing to thousands and killing hundreds of Filipinos nationwide. The Filipino people demanded the government for widespread testing in high-density communities and mobilize the local government units (LGU) to set-up testing centers. Aside from face masks, PPE suit, rubbing alcohol, and germicidal soap, an arsenal of test kits is vital to combat the enemy that is too small to see. Fighting blindly against the viral disease is quite insidious. Undetected cases bear more qualms than the confirmed cases as there are still an unknown number of infected people carrying the virus without symptoms.

Meanwhile, the battle against COVID-19 drastically changed the way Filipino households live their lives.  Force and fear fueled by the government thrived in detaining people in their own homes without means to put food on their table. Fear drove people to come out of their house struggling from hunger but then force lead people to follow the rule otherwise shot dead. This left residents living below the poverty line with three choices of demise a) die due to hunger, b) die from authorities, or c) die because of the virus worse not even confirmed to have one. A bustling third world country is not at ease. Thus, this urged people to call for mass testing.  Flattening the curve is the utmost concern before the hampered health care system collapse. But to prevent the sharp peak of the new cases over a longer period the government must catch the disease and the carriers. For now, mass testing is the only best line of defense to catch the virus before it has the chance to escalate and before the carriers have the chance to unknowingly pass it on. The key concept of mass testing is to identify, isolate, and quarantine everyone infected including the asymptomatic to control the outbreak.

The netizens of the Philippines urged the Department of Health (DOH) to conduct mass testing before the crisis gets even worse. This came after the DOH initially said that there was “no need” for mass testing even if the World Health Organization (WHO) says “aggressive action” must be done by Southeast Asian countries to fight the pandemic. Amid the lack of test kits in the country the VIPs a.k.a. government officials and their families were reported to have undergone the test. After immense tweets and retweets, the netizens had the DOH announced that by April 14, it will be capable of conducting 3,000 tests per day. There would be a need to prioritize those vulnerable members of the population as well as the front line health workers who have the highest exposure to the virus. Would the DOH conduct a widespread test for its powerless people if they did not demand for it? Or is the easier, more believable explanation— that the increasing COVID-19 cases in the country reflect the government shameful failure to define the phrase “to heal as one” means to patch up only the important ones? 

The steady rise of COVID-19 cases in the country is not new anymore. Yet, at this time of great jeopardy, the futility of some officials still persists that the people had to protest on social media to voice out their dismay. The call for mass testing might be the result of the rant and rave by the netizens who want to take action against this crisis. However, ranting still bears serious consequences. The use of run-on sentences and liberal use of exclamation points in a written outburst could be an indication of one’s lack of logic, courtesy, and respect. While there are unending COVID-19 tests in the country, the government still has to take actions on supporting our healthcare system by training additional manpower for mass testing, supplying health workers with needed medical equipment, finding laboratories for local testing centers, ensuring emergency quarantine facility for the patients, and most importantly safeguarding the survival rate of poor Filipino families.  

For the time being in the absence of a vaccine, each person should take extreme preventive measures by maintaining good hygiene practices as the contagion of the viral disease becomes even more treacherous. A person who tested negative today might be infected by the virus tomorrow. 

If the healthcare system collapses before we can even contract the virus, no man can buy time to rant about the “Call for Mass Burial.”

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