Barangay-based and drive-thru testing will amplify Taguig City’s strategy to combat COVID-19 beginning April 22.
With these new initiatives under its innovational Systematic Mass Approach to Responsible Testing (SMART), the City will increase COVID-19 testing.
“Many experts have seen increased COVID-19 testing as an effective tool to decrease transmissions and more effectively treat those infected. We are heeding their suggestions,” said Mayor Lino Cayetano.
Since the beginning of March, SMART has tested nearly 1,000 individuals through a COVID-19 on-call service, through which mobile teams of health workers would collect swabs from possible COVID-19 patients in their homes.
SMART will increase the number of tests conducted across the city with barangay-based and drive-thru testing.
Supplementing the work of the teams in the on-call approach, Taguig will train personnel in its 31 health centers and 3 “Super Health Centers” to conduct COVID-19 testing in the barangays where they operate.
Those who find the health centers inaccessible but have personal vehicles at their disposal, meanwhile, may undertake the drive-thru testing. The service will be available in temporary testing facilities set up in Bonifacio Global City in Brgy. Fort Bonifacio and Taguig Lakeshore in Brgy. Lower Bicutan.
“With these approaches, we are making COVID-19 testing more accessible to Taguigeños,” said Mayor Lino. “In doing this, we are capturing the real breadth of COVID-19 infections in the city, normalizing testing and taking away the stigma around the infection.”
“Moreover, at the end of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), we will have capacitated more of our health workers to safely handle possible cases and lead the process of testing,” he further explained. “The new skill would immensely help us in the foreseeable future where COVID-19 is a notifiable disease, or a disease that should be immediately reported and managed.”
With the new components, SMART will now expand testing to cover recovering COVID-19 patients; persons exhibiting flu-like symptoms; frontline workers; people who may have interacted with confirmed cases; and vulnerable demographics like pregnant women, elderly individuals and persons with co-morbidities.
In handling the volume of samples for COVID-19 testing, Taguig added new partner laboratories to its existing agreement with the Department of Health and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. It recently forged new partnerships with St. Luke’s Medical Center in BGC and the Philippine Red Cross.
Taguig has worked closely with the national government in its effort to find, isolate, test and cure COVID-19 infections.
The city has maintained low transmission because of a holistic approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mayor Lino.
Apart from testing, city government has reorganized itself, continues the enforcement of a community quarantine, containment, contact tracing and disinfection as part of the holistic approach.
“We have strictly implemented the guidelines of the ECQ, complemented that effort with the provision of relief, other forms of assistance and continued social services. On top of this, we have increased our capacity for treatment and quarantine.”
“This new step is part of that holistic approach. We see mass testing as a crucial and proactive step, one that we think will benefit the city even beyond the ECQ,” Mayor added.