TABUK CITY, KalingaDepartment of Health-Kalinga (DOH-Kalinga) chief Dr. Bernadette Andaya said that local government units (LGUs) may now conduct random swab testing of frontliners and certain asymptomatic at-risk groups, as testing capacity in the Cordillera region has again increased.

With Region 1 and Region 2 now having their own COVID-19 testing centers, the Baguio City Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) will now be able to accommodate more specimens from the Cordillera, Andaya said at the Provincial Inter-agency Task Force on COVID-19 meeting on Wednesday, June 3.
“Since pwede na mag-test ang Cagayan Valley TB center for Region 2 and the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center for Region 1, BGHMC is now only testing the region CAR,” Andaya said.
She adds that the expanded testing program previously prioritized those with severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) but this has been expanded to include asymptomatic vulnerable groups.
In a May 29 advisory, DOH-Cordillera said LGUs shall conduct random swab testing among frontliners, senior citizens, and pregnant women.
Further, LGUs are advised to test “all staff and residents” of prisons, detention facilities, orphanages, home for the aged, and other such facilities who are 60 years old and above, with underlying health conditions, or pregnant.
The DOH-Cordillera said “combined with possibilities of poor hygiene and nutrition, stress, and presence of other diseases”, persons in such closed settings and environments “may be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.”
Andaya informs that the BGHMC can accommodate 400 specimens a day from the Cordillera region, divided as follows: 80 each from Benguet and Baguio City; 60 each from Abra and Ifugao; and 40 each from Apayao, Kalinga, and Mt. Province.
“Since we are transporting our specimens MWF, we can send 80 specimens every Monday,” the doctor said.
According to Andaya, Tabuk City and the municipalities shall have to draw up a schedule on who will conduct testing on certain days. She also asked for each LGU’s inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) as this will be the basis to request for augmentation from the regional office.

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