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MAASIN CITY, Mar. 23 (PIA) -- Maasin City’s Quick Response Fund (QRF) is ready and can be used to purchase test kits for the coronavirus disease, but absence of protocols and guidelines prevented the LGU from doing so.

“Is there already available test kits that the LGU can procure using our 30 percent quick response fund, from suppliers that are accredited by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA)?,” Mayor Nacional Mercado asked, speaking in a mix of Filipino and English.

The question was supposed to be asked during the live media briefing on Monday, Mar. 23, hosted by PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar and Usec Rocky Ignacio at PTV4, but the video was not actually aired, due probably to lack of material time during the PIA segment of the state-run TV show.

“So kung may maka-assist kung sino ang mga suppliers na kailangang tawagan at ma-coordinate namin (to buy the testing kits) para gamitin sa mga persons under monitoring (PUMs) at patients under investigation (PUIs),” Mercado added.

He considered the data now prevailing on zero positive case of COVID-19 infections as half-truth, for it cannot be ascertained if one is positive or negative for lack of testing kits.

Mercado said everyone was overwhelmed and ill-prepared in dealing with the new virus as it spread fast around the world that the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as a pandemic.

The DOH was intent on delivering test kits soonest to LGUs, but if there are other duly accredited sources to buy those, the city government would certainly do so, based on certified guidelines, if ever there is, hence he is calling for help on this one, the Mayor stressed.

The self or home quarantine period of 14 days is quite long for a pressing concern like this, so the sooner the testing is done, so much the better, the Mayor also said.

The city of nearly a hundred thousand population has more than 400 PUMs and about a dozen PUIs, the surge in number due mainly to arrivals from Manila and other places since March 15 due to the imposition of strict community quarantine there, where travel was restricted.

In an attempt to stall the increase of PUMs and PUIs, the city itself imposed a heightened constraint on non-Maasinhons coming in through the two main highway borders, and from the seas.

Exempted were those who worked and were employed in the city, including those delivering food supplies, as detailed under Executive Order Number 26, starting March 21 until March 31, so long as proofs of employment or company IDs can be presented. Classes, school events were earlier cancelled.

Entry and exit points in mountain barangays for cross-country trips using provincial roads were absolutely closed for the same duration. (ldl/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)