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Duterte gives go signal for massive rapid testing to restart economy

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion thanks President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for the immediate approval of the order and procurement of rapid test kits, which will be used in containing COVID-19.

In a meeting held at the Malacanañ Palace, last April 13, Concepcion highlighted the key steps on how to revive the economy in a safe, secure, and sustainable manner. One of which was the initiative of the private sector to start massive rapid testing in Metro Manila and other provinces.

Recently, the President approved the immediate procurement of vitally needed test kits from trusted suppliers. These are the antibody tests and the rt-PCR kits, which will be used by the government for public use. For the initial order, two million IgM IgG antibody kits will be purchased at a cost that has yet to be determined, and a budget of P3.2 billion will be used for 40,000 rt-PCR kits, good for 900,000 confirmatory tests.

The antibody tests will be used to detect the presence of IgG and IgM antibodies, which can help identify those who have built an immunity to the virus after recovering from it. The presence of the IgM immunoglobulin is indicative of active disease, while the presence of the IgG immunoglobulin is indicative of recovery and immunity.

“I will take the risk. I will order the Health Department,” Duterte said. “In the meantime, the private sector is doing it. I am clearing the way by ordering the purchase… What we are trying to buy outside has already been approved by the FDA of the United States of America.”

This is in line with the private sector’s initiative led by Concepcion to conduct massive screening of employees at the company’s own expense. The companies will also initiate testing of the residents of nearby barangays wherein they operate as part of their bayanihan efforts. The screening of residents will be on a voluntary basis.

“What is more important? Life or money? There is no doubt that life is more important. However, without money, how will people eat? How will people buy medicine? How will MSMEs recover? How do we bring back the economy in a sustainable way and still make it safe?” shared Concepcion during the meeting.

“Mr. President, you did the right thing when you placed Luzon under immediate lockdown, as it was an emergency situation. I would also like to thank Senator Bong Go, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, National Action Plan (NAP) Chief Implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., and Cab. Sec. Karlo Nograles for their efforts. They have been instrumental in approving our initiative. We are close to finishing one month of ECQ. Now, depending on the number and location of the confirmed cases per area, we should consider implementing Barangay Quarantines, moving up to City/ Municipality Quarantines and Provincial Quarantines, should a wider scale lockdown be necessary,” Concepcion added.

Concepcion also recommends for the government to set up a system for returning overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and balikbayans. Upon arrival, they are recommended to undergo proper testing and screening.

As of today, the conglomerates, businesses, and major business organizations that had attended the meetings convened by the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship have confirmed to take part in this initiative.

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