Due to the 1.1 billion peso debt of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), plans for aggressive community testing spearheaded by the Batangas Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) are put on hold, causing delays in clearing the backlog of suspect cases for COVID-19 in the province, Oct. 15.
Although PhilHealth was able to give 500 million pesos as initial payment last Oct. 27, the PRC said that the amount would only last for two weeks as the Department of Health (DOH) has issued an expanded list of individuals for testing which cannot be accommodated by the current budget.
Gerald Alday, incident commander from the Batangas Provincial IATF, explained that the recent issue between PhilHealth and PRC caused the project to be put on hold.
“Pinatigil tayo [ng] Red Cross sa pagtetest […] May test kits tayo, hindi naman tayo makapagpadala [sa] Red Cross [ng specimens] kasi hangga’t hindi raw nakakapagbayad [ang] PhilHealth sa kanila, hindi sila tatangap ng specimen [mula sa atin],” said Alday.
Alday also discussed the advantage of aggressive community testing compared to the usual testing in terms of acquiring the swab test results.
“Halos talagang ‘yong kinakailangang i-swab, hindi na ini-schedule, isinasabay-sabay na para malaman agad yung result. […] Itong aggressive community testing, within 24 hours, alam mo na kung positive o negative ka,” Alday said.
The initial aggressive community testing, conducted from Oct. 3 to 6, performed 4,000 swab tests simultaneously in three different locations across the province namely: Disaster Resilience Evaluation Alleviation Mitigation (DREAM) Zone Capitol Compound in Batangas City, Don Manuel Lopez Memorial District Hospital in Balayan, and Laurel Memorial District Hospital in Tanauan City.
Meanwhile, the “no home quarantine” policy launched on Sept. 26 was intended to relocate individuals who qualify as asymptomatic or having mild symptoms of COVID-19 to designated isolation facilities.
This policy was implemented to reduce the risk of virus transmission and to provide adequate living quarters for those who have tested positive by extracting and sending them to Temporary Treatment Monitoring Facilities (TTMF).
“‘Yung may mga mild o ‘yung mga kunwari nagka-ubo lang o minsan nagkalagnat […], mayroon na rin tayong pinagdadalhan ngayon. Sa Philippine International Convention Center [PICC], sa Biñan Sports Complex and then sa Filinvest Tent,” Alday said.
In addition, Alday clarified that COVID-positive individuals are allowed to stay at their homes if they are living alone in the residence.
“Ngayon, hindi pa rin sila puno [isolation facilities]. ‘Yung iba, ayaw pa rin umalis ng bahay kasi ayaw nilang lumayo, medyo natatakot. ‘Yung iba naman, may LGU na nag-provide na pwede kang mag-home quarantine kung saka-sakaling ikaw lang ang tao sa bahay,” Alday added.
Alday also mentioned that aside from the aggressive community testing and no home quarantine policy, Oplan Kalinga was also implemented which provides four sites located at the Canyon Woods in Lemery, Chateau Royale in Nasugbu, Balai Isabel in Talisay, and Sunshine Resort in Tanauan as isolation facilities
“Nagkameron din [ang] national [government] ng Oplan Kalinga. […] Ito ‘yung mga asymptomatic patients na positive. Para hindi na sila makahawa sa kanilang bahay, nag-provide sila ng mga hotel facility,” Alday said.
The said initiatives were launched by the national government, in cooperation with the National Task Force (NTF) for COVID-19 and the Batangas Provincial IATF as primary response groups in the battle against the virus in Batangas province.