MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross said Wednesday it would screen residents in Quezon City for the novel coronavirus as cases of the respiratory disease in the city continued to climb.
The non-profit group will prioritize testing Quezon City barangays with the most number of COVID-19 cases, said PRC chairman and chief executive officer Sen. Richard Gordon. The city government, he said, would cover the costs.
"Sabi ni [Quezon City Mayor] Joy Belmonte, doon kami unang magte-test, sasagutin niya lahat ng magte-test doon sa Quezon City," he told DZMM.
(Joy Belmonte said she will foot the tests for Quezon City, where we will do tests first.)
Belmonte told ABS-CBN News the Red Cross is "scheduling this (testing) for early next week." The group and the city government are still discussing other details, she said.
The PRC has 2 machines that can theoretically run 3,000 COVID-19 tests in a day and yield results in 3 hours, said Gordon.
The Red Cross is also coordinating with local governments on how their residents can go to the Red Cross' headquarters in Mandaluyong, where the COVID-19 test machines would also be deployed, said the lawmaker.
The tests can be done in the convention center of Red Cross office, which can fit 800 people. Admission to the area will be limited to 100 people per hour to minimize the risk of virus transmission, he said.
If the screening there goes smoothly, the Red Cross will also run tests at its Manila headquarters in the port area, following the same protocols, Gordon said.
The government, he said, should pay for the tests.
"Dapat unahin natin talaga, kung maaari nga, iyong mga taong walang kaya dahil siyempre kung hindi sila makakapag-test, parang baligtad ang mundo natin, mayaman lang," he said.
(We should prioritize, if possible, the poor. If they cannot be tested, it will be as if the world is upside down and for the rich only.)
The Philippines as of Tuesday confirmed 88 deaths out of its total 2,084 cases of the novel coronavirus. The tally could continue to climb following the recent delivery of test kits and the accreditation of additional screening laboratories, said the health department.
Metro Manila and the entire Luzon, home to about half of the country's 100 million people, is under lockdown until April 12 to contain the pandemic.