GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 27 May) – The national government delivered some 9,000 units of rapid test kits and personal protective equipment to Region 12 or Soccsksargen to facilitate the testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) of returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and residents stranded in other areas.
Secretary Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19, brought the initial supplies in a visit here on Tuesday for a meeting with the Soccsksargen Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) on COVID-19.
The additional stocks arrived from Cebu Tuesday evening through a Philippine Air Force C-130 aircraft.
During the RIATF meeting, Galvez said LGUs may use the test kits, a total of 7,500 units, to test the returning OFWs and locally stranded individuals (LSI) in parts of Soccsksargen.
“You may also use them in case you find [COVID-9] hotspots and want to conduct random tests,” he said.
Galvez said the allocation of the test kits for the region, which was facilitated by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, was based on instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said the President and Senator Go wanted the NTF to check areas that were considered under moderate to low risk for COVID-19 but have no testing capacity.
This city and the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato were each allotted with an initial 1,500 rapid test kits, which were considered of “good quality” and with “97 percent sensitivity.”
Galvez said they will deliver additional test kits for the area to complete the 5,000 allocation for highly urbanized cities and 2,500 for the provinces.
Aside from the test kits, the NTF brought an additional 1,500 units of personnel protective equipment (PPE) for government hospitals and rural health units in the region.
The official said they will provide additional stocks from the over 200,000 units that will arrive in the coming days in Davao City through a commissioned vessel.
He said the PPEs will be distributed by the Office of Civil Defense, which handles the logistics for the NTF.
Sultan Kudarat Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu, RIATF chairperson, lauded the allocation of the rapid test kits and additional PPEs for the region.
He said these will help local government units better manage their COVID-19 efforts and address the challenges brought about by the arrival of returning OFWs and LSIs.
As of Wednesday, nearly 500 OFWs from the region who were stranded in Metro Manila due to the COVID-19 community quarantine have already returned home through three “sweeper” flights commissioned by the national government.
The latest flight via Air Asia, with 177 passengers onboard, arrived Wednesday morning at the city’s international airport. (MindaNews)