Isko launches free drive-thru COVID-19 testing center

Isko-Moreno & Honey Lacuna
Mayor Isko Moreno and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna lead the ribbon-cutting of the new drive-thru COVID testing center at the Bonifacio Shrine. With them are (from left) Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office chief Arnel Angeles, department of public services chief Kenneth Amurao, city architect Pepito Balmoris, city electrician Randy Sadac and Manila health department chief Dr. Arnold ‘Poks’ Pangan. Photo by JERRY S. TAN

IN an effort to address the anxiety recently prevailing over most residents brought about by COVID-19, Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday launched a free, drive-thru testing center that could serve at least 16,000 motorists specially from Manila weekly, using machines that yield far more conclusive results than the ordinary rapid test kits and a reliability like that of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines.

Moreno said interested motorists will just have to fill out a form, present an accompanying ID and then wait for the assigned medical personnel to get their blood sample which will then be analyzed using the newly-purchased Architect plus i1000 SR machines from Abbott Laboratories.

Four medical technologists will be manning the initial operations which, eventually, will steadily run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Based on the information that the concerned motorist supplied, he will be contacted and informed about the result of his test as soon as it becomes available, which is just within 24 hours or less.

The mayor guarantees that all information, including the results, will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

“If the result is positive, the person concerned will be given instructions on what to do. Depending on his condition and the symptoms he manifests, he may be taken by the city government to the nearest quarantine facility for the purpose of isolating him so as not to infect his family and community members and then treated accordingly,” the mayor explained.

“Marami ngayon sa ating mga kababayan ang napa-praning, naii-stress kakaisip. So, para mabigyan natin sila ng kapanatagan, iniaalay namin  itong bagong sistema ng testing. Libre ito para sa ating mga taga-lungsod,” Moreno said.

To be used are the two new machines recently purchased by the city government that offers a new way of testing with 99.6 specificity and 100 percent sensitivity, no less. 

“If we’re now mass testing using the rapid test kits, those found positive are submitted for swab testing for purposes of confirmation. Since the new machines we purchased have 99.6 specificity and 100 percent sensitivity, we are thus doing away with the ‘false negative’ and ‘false positive’ results that usually accompany the use of rapid test kits,” Moreno said.

He further assured: “Mas maagap at masinop na makakalap ang mga may sakit and eventually, kaya na rin ng  mga makinang ito na mag-function as PCR machines and in the long-term, lalakas ang kapabilidad ng pamahalaan na magbigay kapanatagan, na ang resultang hawak  niya through rapid testing ay malaki ang probabilidad na totoo, dahil nga ang makinang ito ay 99.6. ang specificity.”

The mayor also said that the newly-purchased machines can be stored in ordinary laboratory rooms unlike the PCR machines that have a lot of requirements, for which he again expressed gratitude to the Department of Health for guiding the city government about it, so that Manila now has its own COVID testing laboratory.