Baguio proposes Free COVID testing for delivery riders

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City officials are requesting the country’s testing czar, Vivencio Dizon, president of the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), to partner with food delivery companies operating in the city for optional free Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing for all their respective drivers and delivery riders.

Under Resolution NO. 584, series of 2020, signed by Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, city legislators stated that food delivery drivers and riders are prone to COVID exposure on account of their job and jeopardizing not only themselves but also those whom they service and those that they interact with, thus, free testing services and other benefits should also be extended to the local delivery drivers and riders regardless of the companies they work with.

Earlier, Dizon, who is also the BCDA chief executive officer and the deputy chief implementer of the government’s national policy against COVID, was tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure the continuous and effective delivery of the service to trace, treat and test suspected COVID patients.

The Council added that taking his role as the country’s new COVID testing czar, Dizon announced that tens of thousands of Grab drivers and delivery riders could now get tested for the deadly virus at no cost to them and the companies where they work.

The Council stipulated that the free testing for some 60,000 Grab drivers and riders is part of the government’s expanded and targeted testing initiative and will be covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to ensure the beneficiaries of the program will not be burdened by shouldering the expensive testing.

Further, Grab Philippines president Brian Cu disclosed that the company will also offer up to P10,000 in aid to drivers or riders who tested positive and cannot go to work due to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for them to recover from the deadly virus.

The BCDA had been spearheading several mass testing in Baguio City and the neighboring towns of La Trinidad, Tuba, Itogon, Sablan, Tublay and Kapangan over the past several months that contributed in the sudden surge of confirmed COVID cases in the said areas where most of them were said to be asymptomatic and were immediately quarantined and isolated in treatment and monitoring facilities.

City officials had been advocating for aggressive expanded and targeted testing among various sectors of the community to ascertain the percentage of the population infected with the deadly virus so that those that test positive will be immediately quarantined or isolated to prevent them from spreading the illness and thus compromise the health care system.

The reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or swab test has been named by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DOH) as the gold standard for testing suspected and probable COVID patients but the high cost of the aforesaid test had prevented many people from availing of the same to ensure their health and safety and for them to be able to continue their normal way of life.

By Dexter A. See

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