MAASIN CITY, May 20 (PIA) -- The province of Southern Leyte is determined to buy some 5,000 units of rapid diagnostic test kits as a proactive measure in checking possible carriers of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

This was disclosed by Gov. Damian Mercado in a casual chat with local reporters on the sidelines of the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) meeting last week which tackled the extension of the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) for the province until the end of the month, now being implemented under EO 27.

Mercado said funds to be used for the procurement of the rapid antibody test kits will be taken from the province’s share of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or RA 11469, wherein the province got P44 million equivalent to one-half of its monthly internal revenue allotment (IRA) share.

He downplayed talks on the supposed lack of assistance extended to the 18 municipalities and one city of the province, saying the Bayanihan fund specified to strictly follow the prescribed menu as basis for the money to spend, such as the provision on medical supplies, and health protection to frontliners and to the people at large.

Assisting in the relief initiatives of LGUs was not in the guidelines, but if there is a need to assist the LGUs, the province is ready to help using other fund sources, the governor emphasized.

Bidding for the procurement of the rapid test kits had been scheduled last Friday, the governor said, adding that once the kits are in, he shall coordinate with the public health sector for the proper distribution around the province.

Rapid antibody tests use blood samples to measure a patient or a person’s antibodies who, like soldiers, react to the presence of a virus in the blood, hence the term “reactive,” meaning an intruder or virus has entered the body’s blood system.

Reactive individuals need to undergo a confirmatory test through the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction or RT-PCR test, using material taken from the throat or deep in the nose, to see if the virus found was indeed COVID-19.

On Wednesday last week, everyone in the city and province was surprised upon learning that 3 out of 30 construction workers were found reactive after having undergone rapid tests at a private hospital through an agreement with the DPWH.

In a press conference, city Mayor Nacional Mercado expressed frustration that the activity was conducted without proper coordination with the city health authorities for the much-needed monitoring and contact tracing.

The three were immediately rounded up even in the middle of the night, their swab samples taken and brought to EVRMC, and they were isolated at the old provincial hospital, the province’s isolation facility.

As of this writing, only one of the three had a negative result, while results for the other two are still being eagerly awaited. (ldl/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)