March 27, 2023

There will be no express lane or VIP treatment in the conduct of mass testing for Covid-19 in the coming weeks.

This was the assurance made by Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center Chief, Dr. Ricardo Ruñez, Jr. saying that all patients showing symptoms of the infection, regardless of their status in life, are being subjected to rapid testing and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

The BGHMC was certified by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to conduct Covid-19 testing. The Department of Health central office has also designated BGHMC as a sub-national testing center for the Covid-19 for Northern Luzon.

Ruñez explained that BGHMC has only one RT-PCR machine that processes specimens taken not only from patients from the Cordillera but also from Regions 1 and 2.

At present, BGHMC can process 70 to 300 specimens in 24 hours, but the hospital is targeting to process as much as 700 specimens if the Department of Science and Technology fulfills its promise to deliver one more RT-PCR machine to the hospital.

Ruñez said there is an increase of specimens from Regions 1 and 2 being shipped to BGHMC for Covid-19 testing.

He also clarified that the conduct of Covid-19 testing will be based on the levels of priority set by the DOH.

DOH-Cordillera Director Amelita Pangilinan said the first priority for mass testing are those categorized as suspects (formerly persons under investigation) who are assessed to be in serious condition; medical and health workers who are exposed to Covid-19 patients, and healthcare facility workers with symptoms.

On second priority are patients 65 years old and older with symptoms; patients in long-term care facilities with symptoms; patients with underlying conditions with symptoms; first responders with symptoms; and those with history of travel in areas with local transmission.

Priority three are those who do not fall under the two first categories but with symptoms, and individuals with mild symptoms in communities experiencing high numbers of Covid-19 hospitalizations.

Mass testing will be scheduled as soon as the test kits will be available.

The City Health Services Office has already started mass testing on April 4. – Harley F. Palangchao