Bishop joins calls for coronavirus mass testing

Bishop joins calls for coronavirus mass testing

A Camillian missionary helps distribute food packs to residents of Brgy. San Andres in Cainta, Rizal on March 23, 2020. The area is one of the “Camillian adopted communities” wherein most of the beneficiaries are daily-wage earners affected by the lockdown. PHOTO FROM THE CAMILLIANS

By CBCP News

March 25, 2020

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic bishop has joined the calls for mass testing for coronavirus in the Philippines, as some analysts warned 26,000 people in the country are likely to be infected by end of March.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos agreed with a group of scientists that the widespread testing is “crucial” in containing the transmission of the virus.

“We wish to emphasize the crucial role of mass testing,” Alminaza said.

He stressed that Singapore, South Korea and Japan were able to stem the spread of Covid-19 because of their fast, efficient and effective testing systems.

“We also wish to stress openness and transparency on the part of the government, which were key in the successes of Singapore and South Korea,” he said.

The Scientists Unite Against COVID, an alliance of more than 1,000 biologists and health experts, has earlier echoed the call of the World Health Organization for countries to “test, test, test”.

“Each day we delay, more cases go undetected, and more people may die,” the scientists said.

Also composed of 336 organizations, the group led by several University of the Philippines molecular biologists also launched a petition calling on the government to start mass testing.

They emphasized that mass testing would give the government a clearer picture of the extent of the infections in the country and respond accordingly.

They added that by decentralizing testing from major hospitals to laboratories, the Philippines would be able to spot and contain localized outbreaks in communities around the country.

As of March 25, the Philippines has recorded at least 636 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 26 recoveries and 35 deaths.

“We believe that the country has not reached the peak of this virus crisis, and we fear that the number of infected patients could swell in the next several weeks,” Alminaza added.

“We therefore request our government to take all the necessary preparations, including utilizing and empowering our LGU Health Departments,” he also said.