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Valenzuela City plans to test at least 10 percent of its population by the end of this year as part of preventive measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), according to Mayor Rex Gatchalian.

"As early as July 20, we had 2 percent of our total population tested so that is 14,420 individual tests. Ang (Our) projected population namin [is] 664,613. Now as of August 30, we are up to 20,729. We want to target at least 10 percent of the population come year-end,” Gatchalian said during a visit of officials of the Covid-19 Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) team, the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19, and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) in Valenzuela City.

At the onset of the health crisis, Gatchalian said the city government has conducted mass targeted reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for both symptomatic and asymptomatic residents.

Gatchalian said the city government can now facilitate “close to 700 to 1,000 PCR tests per day".

“I just wanted to reiterate that we are the first LGU to do the local mass testing but we didn't do that on our own. We explored the PPP (public and private partnership) option. We were the first to sign a deal with the private laboratories,” he said.

He said 38 percent of the city's total population who have been tested are front-liners to ensure their safety while serving the public.

“Kasama na d’yan ang medical and non-medical, pati na ‘yung mga barangay officials namin (that includes our medical and non-medical workers and those barangay officials) who are part of the Social Amelioration Program and all the relief efforts," he added.'

Gatchalian said the city has no centralized swabbing areas, so they are conducting home swabbing for possible Covid-19 cases.

“We maintain a group of 58 medical technologists to do home swabs. They go to your house. They do the testing. You don’t have to leave the house," he said.

The city government earlier allocated funds for the purchase of test kits amounting to more than PHP106 million.

Meanwhile, Gatchalian said the Valenzuela Hope Molecular laboratory is set to be operational, which can facilitate 270 to 700 Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests per day.

"So yung target natin na 10 percent na tests hopefully matamaan natin (Hopefully we can hit the targeted 10 percent tests)," he said.

The Valenzuela Hope Molecular Laboratory has a PCR machine (Biorad CFX 96 Real-time PCR Detection – Thermal Cycle) and is expected to be fully integrated with the Abbott Architect machines of the Serology Laboratory through a Laboratory Information System (LIS), which makes the extraction process fully automated.

The city council earlier passed Ordinance No. 766, Series of 2020 establishing the Valenzuela City Hope Molecular Laboratory to "further strengthen the management of the facility on its staffing pattern, goals, funding, services, and the like".

Under the ordinance, all sample specimens from patients as recommended by the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) for Covid-19 RT-PCR testing "shall be exempted from the laboratory testing fee".

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