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MANKAYAN, Benguet – Mayor Frenzel A. Ayong explained that the municipal government directly coordinated with the Office of Civil Defense–Cordillera (OCD-CAR) and the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMNC), a subsidiary of the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), for the conduct of mass testing among the identified vulnerable sectors of the municipality last December 16-17, 2020.
When the surge in Corona Virus Disease (COVID) 2019 cases in the municipality was observed towards the end of November, Ayong disclosed he was immediately contacted by OCD-CAR regional director Albert Mogol to inquire what assistance can the regional inter-agency task force on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases extend to the municipality to contain the spread of the deadly virus and this resulted to the scheduling of the mass testing by the BCDA whose president and chief executive officer Vince Dizon is the country’s testing czar.
Initially, the BCDA aimed at conducting some 4,500 tests in the municipality for the duration of the mass testing but since there were already initial reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests that were conducted earlier aside from the antigen tests, so only 2,000 tests were done.
“We never dealt with other parties outside the OCD-CAR and BCDA and there was no failure in our mass testing as in fact, we reached over 80 percent of the prescribed quota of individuals supposed to undergo the RT-PCR tests, Mayor Ayong stressed.
The municipal chief executive reported that the OCD-CAR and BCDA officials could attest that there were a series of talks that transpired when these agencies offered to the municipal government the conduct of mass testing for free to the identified members of the vulnerable sectors in the municipality where it was agreed that only 2,000 will be initially tested and that future mass tests could be scheduled if the need arises.
According to him, while the positivity rate of the mass testing that was conducted was around 4.1 percent, or 69 persons tested positive of the virus, of the 1,678 individuals that availed of the mass testing, continuous testing is being done in the municipality and for the past several days, the cases had significantly declined with the situation under control contrary to the perception of outsiders that the cases in the municipality is still high.
He called on individuals and groups outside the municipality to avoid making unnecessary remarks if they do not know the real situation on the ground and leave the sharing of information with the local officials and health authorities who had been working round the clock to contain the surge of COVID cases even if the municipal government had meager resources and that it is the ‘bayanihan’ spirit of the residents and the concerned stakeholders that is working to their advantage.