CEBU, Philippines — Has Cebu City run out of COVID-19 test kits?
Barangay Guadalupe Captain Michael Gacasan told The Freeman they have requested for kits for some residents of sitio Tambis but were told by the Cebu City Health Department that there are no longer kits available.
“Sa sitio Tambis, among lockdown whole compound kay naay nag-positive, and requested swab test for them. Nahuman na lang ang 14 days quarantine nila, ang swab wa gihapon. Giingnan lang mi nga buhii na lang na sila, ayaw na lang nag hilabti kay wa naman mi swab test kit,” Gacasan said.
(We have placed a compound in sitio Tambis on lockdown because some residents have tested positive and we requested swab tests for them. The test never happened even after the 14-day quarantine. We were told to just let the residents be because they have ran out of swab kits.)
Councilor Nestor Archival said he received the same information from Gacasan. He also learned that some of those who tested positive in the rapid testing were reportedly told to undergo re-testing at private hospitals.
“Kung imo nang dalho’g private, kamahal ana. Asa man sila’g ikabayad? Unya ambot lang gyud kung nahurot na na o wala. Ang problema pud sa swab kay pila ra man na ka machine ang nag-andar ba nga tanang gipamalit sa city? Nangutana na ko’s Vicente Sotto (Memorial Medical Center), di man pud sila mutug-an,” Archival said.
(It will be very expensive to go a private hospital. Where will they get the money for it? I don’t know if we have run out of kits. The problem with the swab test is we’re not sure how many of the machines the city has bought is functioning. I asked Vicente Sotto and they could not tell me anything.)
Vice Mayor Michael Rama, himself a member of the City Council’s committee on health, said he has not received updates on the test kits.
“I really don’t know because I have never been privy on how these kits have been acquired and were we are now in the availability of those testing kits,” he said.
“Mag-budget mi, sige mi’g pangutana anang dapita diha. It needs to be in official documentation, pila gyuy napalit, unsay brand napalit, asa na karon ang gipalit,” he added.
(When we tackle the budget, we always ask where they are now. The specifics have to be documented – how many were bought, what brand was chosen, where they are now.)
Councilor Raymond Garcia, chairperson of the committee on budget and finance at the City Council, said the city has purchased 30,000 test kits. As of yesterday, he has not received reports that the kits have run out.
He said it has to be specified what specific kit has run out.
“I have no idea kung unsa ilang pasabot nga testing kits but I have not yet received any report. If tinuod-anay nga report nga nahurot na ang mga testing kits, then why not? Ang atong mga testing kits, we all gave it to the Vicente Sotto and city health, as well,” Garcia said.
(I have no idea what testing kits they are referring to and I have not received any report. If it’s true that the kits have run out, then why not? We gave all the kits to Vicente Sotto and to the city health.)
“You have to understand the whole process because kung PCR man gud, that’s easily a 20-step process – from swabbing, extraction. Daghan kaayo na nga step so if one of those elements in the process maoy nahurot, then you still cannot process the COVID test. So you have to make sure unsa – swab kits ba na, testing kits ba na, extraction kits ba na? Daghan kaayo nga factors so you have to ask them unsa man gyud ila pasabot,” he added.
(You have to understand the whole process because the PCR test is easily a 20-step process – from swabbing, extraction. There are many steps so if one of those elements in the process ran out, then you still cannot process the COVID test. So you have to make sure which ones ran out – are these the swab kits, testing kits, extraction kits? There are many factors so you have to ask them what they are really referring to.)
The Freeman tried to speak with city health chief Daisy Villa but she has not responded yesterday.
A source from the City Health Department told The Freeman that the new direction now is to prioritize symptomatic cases.
In the case of Guadalupe, the source said, the test was no longer needed since the resident who tested positive was asymptomatic and everyone in the compound already underwent the 14-day home quarantine.
Under the interim guidelines on expanded testing for COVID-19 issued last May 29, DOH says “Discharge and recovery criteria for suspect, probable, and confirmed COVID-19 cases shall no longer entail repeat testing. Symptomatic patients who have clinically recovered and are no longer symptomatic for at least 3 days and have completed at least 14 days of isolation either at home, temporary treatment and monitoring facility, or hospital, can be tagged as a recovered confirmed case and reintegrated to the community without the need for further testing, provided that a licensed medical doctor clears the patient. Patients who test RT-PCR positive and remain asymptomatic for at least 14 days can discontinue quarantine and tagged as a recovered confirmed case without need for further testing, provided a licensed medical doctor clears the patient.”
But the source said they have not returned to the sitio due to backlogs in the processing of cases. The CHD has five contact tracing teams with each team conducting up to 30 contact tracing each day. With the lack of manpower, it is difficult to visit each household all at once.
In fact, the source said, stress has already caught up with some members of the team, which also delays the work. JMO (FREEMAN)