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Pangasinan prepares for COVID-19 mass testing

April 16, 2020

Provincial Health Officer Anna Ma. Teresa De Guzman said that the Provincial Government of Pangasinan is preparing for the the COVID-19 mass testing in the province.

The mass testing will use oropharyngeal swabbing to which medical technologists from the 44 towns and three cities, along with the 14 government-owned hospitals, will undergo orientation and training on the techniques by the end of this week.

 “Sa ngayon po ang una is yung training ng mga med-tech at mag-aantay po tayo sa availability ng resources na ibibgay sa atin ng Departamento ng Kalusugan,” said Dr. De Guzman.

The mass testing will prioritize mild persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs) who had a direct contact with the PUIs.

“Ang mga mild PUI ito po yung mga hindi sila elderly, hindi rin po sila buntis at wala po silang co-morbidities,” Dr. De Guzman clarified.

All PUIs who are classified as severe and critical were already tested.

Furthermore, Dr. De Guzman explained that Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) based as Gold Standard will be used in the mass testing is preferred rather than the immunoassay or rapid testing based on the presence of Antibodies.

PCR, where oropharyngeal swabbing is needed, is more specific and sensitive compared to the rapid testing wherein whole blood will be used.

In addition, rapid testing might not detect the antibodies during the first stage of infection while PCR could identify the virus even during the initial onset of the symptoms.

“Gustong sundan ng butihing Gobernardor Amado “Pogi” I. Espino, III ay kung ano yung nirerekomenda ng Departamento ng Kalusugan na para sa mga kababayan natin sa Pangasinan,” said Dr. De Guzman.

The provincial health officer also highlighted the importance of early detection.

“Hindi sila po umaabot doon sa stage with severe pneumonia kung kaya’t hindi sila nagkakaroon ng severe difficulty of breathing ang ating mga PUIs ngayon,” Dr. De Guzman assured.

Meanwhile, the recovery rate of Pangasinan has been steadily increasing since last week with 13 recoveries, while the total number of deaths remain at 9 for the past 9 days, as of April 15, 7:00pm.

/Paula Jhea Sison