MANILA--Valenzuela City mayor Rex Gatchalian on Thursday expressed concern over not testing so-called persons under monitoring (PUMs) after his local government found out 5 of them carried the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
"This is very alarming. A whole category deleted by the Department of Health is actually testing positive," Gatchalian said in an interview on ANC.
The health department last week released a new guideline that PUMs are no longer included in the new classification of COVID-19 cases.
In the DOH's February guideline, PUMs are those exposed to a COVID-19 infected patient or has a travel history, but do not exhibit symptoms. They are required to undergo a monitored 14-day home quarantine.
"So in effect, I was like, 'Why is this happening when experts said don't test them anymore?' And my immediate reaction was not only for Valenzuela, but to all the Department of Health," Gatchalian said.
To date, the city has 53 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The new patient is a 34-year-old hospital frontliner.
Gatchalian said the city started its localized mass testing Saturday and would be including PUMs to narrow down potential carriers.
"With this targeted testing, we are narrowing it down and we're going to allocate the resources for those who need it the most. Testing is actually saving us the most on much needed resources in manpower," he said.
The city government will later test frontline workers, vulnerable communities and returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
After the enhanced community quarantine was extended to April 30 to halt the contagion, Gatchalian said city officials would be distributing 220,000 food vouchers, including to middle class and working class families.
"We know they are hurting and we wanted to make sure there is food on the table," he said.
Valenzuela handed out food packs to 112,000 families belonging to low-income households when the lockdown was imposed in March.
With an extended lockdown, Gatchalian said his city would be asking for more assistance from the national government.
"Yes, we are fairly a big LGU. Yes, we can manage our people, but government resources are always not infinite. It's always finite compared to the infinite needs," he said.