MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon (PIA)–Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Bukidnon 3rd district congressman Manuel Zubiri on Monday turned over 2,000 test kits to Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center (BPMC) for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) detection.
The donated test kits are the rapid antibody test kits recently promoted by President Rodrigo Duterte during his weekly briefings. These kits can be used without testing laboratories.
“I know the gold standards of testing for COVID-19 are the PCR test kits, like those we donated to PGH. But in the absence of accredited laboratories across the country, these rapid test kits will have to do for now,” Zubiri said.
The senator is also donating test kits to Misamis Oriental, Surigao del Norte, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Earlier this month, he donated test kits to the Philippine General Hospital as well.
“I am prioritizing these areas of Mindanao, as the DOH has yet to accredit a single testing lab in these areas. This is one of my biggest frustrations, as there is only one accredited laboratory in Mindanao, located in Davao City and nowhere else at the moment. The DOH should cut the bureaucratic red tape and at least focus on regional laboratories and testing centers.”
While Luzon, particularly Metro Manila, holds a majority of the country’s COVID-19 cases so far, Mindanao has not been spared from the virus. There have been over one hundred sixty (160) positive cases in Mindanao as of this writing, an alarming number given the limited testing capacity in the region so far.
“Kung sa Metro Manila lang tayo mag-focus, hindi natin matatalo itong COVID. The longer we hold other regions back from massive testing, the higher the chances that the virus will continue to spread, even with community quarantine. We can’t afford for that to happen. Dapat maagapan natin as soon as possible,” the senator insisted.
Zubiri, who himself had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has recovered from the disease, voiced sympathy for healthcare workers in Mindanao.
“So many nurses, doctors, and hospital workers back home have reached out to me asking if there’s a way we can help them. Nasa frontlines sila araw-araw, risking their own well-being for us, and yet they can’t get tested because of a shortage of kits. It’s disheartening. I hope some of the test kits that we’re sending out can be allocated for our health workers so they can continue with their noble duty to our people,” he said.
In the same way, Zubiri said “there is a need for nationwide testing because that is the only way we can begin to eliminate it.” (Office of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri/PIA10)