AS the world reels from the effects of COVID-19, the local government unit of Taguig City has put effective interventions in place to protect its constituents and address their needs amid the rapid economic downturn.
Right after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared a State of Public Health Emergency in March, the local government, under the leadership of Mayor Lino S. Cayetano, immediately implemented a lockdown in the city — an aggressive step aimed at arresting the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The city also set into motion a number of actions that had been laid out in a comprehensive program, including the distribution of stay-at-home packs; free rides for health workers and those who are sick (Libreng Sakay and Libreng Hatid at Sundo); telemedicine, testing and distribution of various forms of aid to different sectors of the community.
These interventions have become hugely successful in keeping the city safe and protecting the lives and livelihoods of Taguigeños, and as the year 2020 comes to a close, the city and its residents face the new year with renewed hope.
Free RT-PCR testing reaches 95K residents
Early on, the city government realized the importance of identifying those who are COVID-19-positive so they can be placed under isolation and treated of their symptoms.
Under Mayor Cayetano’s direction, the city implemented the Systematic Mass Approach to Responsible Testing (SMART) program to bring the tests to the barangay health centers. Together with the City Epidemiology Disease and Surveillance Unit (CEDSU) and even the drive-through testing provided by the city government, a total of 95,000 residents have been given free RT-PCR testing to date.
More than 30 sites have been put up in various barangays, and residents have two options to avail themselves of free tests:
1. Set a schedule with the nearest health center from Monday to Friday (free shuttle service is provided);
2. For those who have vehicles, drive-through test are available every Wednesday at the Bonifacio Global City, Barangay Fort Bonifacio and every Friday at the Lakeshore Area, Barangay Lower Bicutan.
Molecular Lab and Mega-Quarantine Facility
Taguig City is one of only a few cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) that has their own Molecular Testing Laboratories accredited by the Department of Health (DOH).
The lab can help the city attain its target of conducting 100,000 RT-PCR tests before the year ends — equivalent to 10% of the city’s population.
The city also built a Mega-Quarantine Facility at Lakeshore Hotel with 500 beds complete with bathrooms and even living rooms where patients can spend isolation safely and in comfort. The facility was built so that those who test positive but are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms need not be hospitalized and can be isolated from their family members.
The Mega-Quarantine Facility also has a number of “Robonurses” built by the Taguig Robotics Team that help care for the patients while protecting health workers. The Robonurses bring the medicines and other supplies to patients while nurses monitor them.
Lowest number of active cases in NCR
With effective governance and strict implementation of the tracing, testing, and treatment program, the city of Taguig has the lowest number of active COVID-19 cases in the NCR at a rate of 4 for every 100,000 residents. This places the city at par with cities around the world with the lowest cases like Tokyo in Japan, Seoul in South Korea, and Toronto in Canada.
Commitment to education
Aside from its health initiatives, the city has also focused on education during the pandemic and has been at the forefront of finding ways to maintain the city’s high level of education.
Among these programs are the Tele-aral, a new system of education with specialized curriculum and tutorial services. Under this program, students, parents, and even teachers can ask a pool of teachers questions through a hotline from Monday to Friday. The pool of teachers and tutors in this free service are specialists in various subjects from Kindergarten through Grade 12.
The city of Taguig also launched online classes for those who want to use their time during quarantine to develop their knowledge and skills for the present and the future. The Training and Enrichment Courses from Taguig Online Campus (TECTOC) is part of TORCH (Taguig Online Resources and Community Hub), an online learning portal that offers training for teachers, open campuses for professionals, online resource hubs for senior citizens, and resource pages for business owners.
More than 250 courses are available through TECTOC like digital marketing and the use of Microsoft programs. The city government partnered with Skillsoft, one of the leading companies in quality and innovative eLearning in the world which gives online training to renowned universities like the Massachusets Institute of Tecnhology (MIT) and Cornell University in the US as well as companies like Microsoft and Toyota.
Hope for 2021
These are just a few of the accomplishments of the city during the very difficult year of 2020. Decisive leadership and a clear and modern program have been key to making Taguig a model city in the fight against COVID-19. Taguigeños now have solid hope that with their cooperation with the city government, their lives will be safe and their livelihoods stable in the coming year.