Under the Bacolod City Ordinance “Granting the Emergency Authority to the City Mayor in the face of Covid-19 Pandemic”, one of the measures granted to the Mayor is to “Conduct massive RT-PCR (Swab) Tests in the City.”
Nowhere did the ordinance say, “MANDATORY”.
Although I am in favor of the “massive” Swab Tests, it should be grounded on the following: 1.) that the government should provide the necessary financial and food assistance to the patient and his family while he is under quarantine and 2.) the patient should be treated once he is found “positive” in a medical isolation facility.
The purpose of MASS TESTING is to determine our Health Response Capacity Inventory in concrete figures.
We need to conduct “Mass Testing” to the greatest acceptable degree so we can confirm actual infections and EVALUATE the “Case Doubling Rate”.
But, 1.) How can we confirm the number of infections in these 3 major markets when people in these markets come and go? People that get inside these markets are mostly “transients”.
2.) How can we EVALUATE “Case Doubling Rate” as against that actual infected when again people in these markets come and go inside these markets?
The number of confirmed infections in these three markets is not strategically representative of Bacolod City’s Case Doubling Rate and actions taken are too inefficient/ineffective therefore too expensive for the whole City to benefit.
What is ideal? Instead, of these three markets, the government should rather conduct Massive and Random Swab Testing or mapping of all the 61 barangays of Bacolod starting with individuals showing symptoms of Covid-19 classifying them in terms of suspect, probable, and confirmed cases and color code them.
How? Start with the barangays with the most number of cases namely; Singcang, Taculing, Villamonte, Estefania, Mansilingan, and so forth and so on. Target individuals with symptoms, first.
Through these barangays’ mass testing we can already EVALUATE by area, purok, street, subdivision, or community and make the necessary “selective quarantine” resulting in a more effective “Testing” THEN FOLLOW the Detection, Isolation, Treatment, and Tracing protocols. We do it by area and not by “sector” such as vendors, drivers, fisherfolks, etc.
Notes: KEY FACTOR FOR AN EFFECTIVE TESTING, TRACING AND ISOLATION OF POTENTIAL COVID-19 CARRIERS.
A key question for policymakers right now is: Which control measures have effects that merit the costs involved? Or put in another way, what types and combinations of measures are effective in containing the spread of Covid-19 with minimal negative economic impact?
Specifically, we need to examine the relationship between control measures and Covid-19 transmission rates, as well as the impact of these measures on economic activity or the individuals’ capacity to earn a living. Both have to be taken into serious consideration before the government recommends actions and measures.
First, we all agree that the increase of Covid-19 spread is strongly associated with the increase and unregulated movements of people that is why people are advised to stay at home if necessary.
However, this type of control measure is weak when household size is large and especially so in poor families living in congested and economically depressed areas. Restricting the mobility of people are less likely to be effective in slums or squatter areas with high density and with large households.
Secondly, quarantine or lockdowns in poor communities or high-density areas will not be effective in controlling people’s movement because streets, alleys, parks are considered extensions of their homes or living rooms.
Thirdly, people cannot afford to be quarantined or stay at home because it would lead to “loss of income”. Most of these people are on a “NO WORK NO PAY” (remedyo heneral) basis.
Even in the reporting of symptoms or the truthful disclosure of information about their symptoms and contact patterns will be in question because it would potentially lead to loss of income or loss of work.
Even workers of mild symptoms may well show up for work to avoid income loss and in the process spread disease and simultaneously dampen the effectiveness of these processes. Therefore, for all these to be effective, the government must provide a measure of “SOCIAL PROTECTION” to its people affected by these stringent measures to fight the pandemic.