The city of Manila on Tuesday began swab testing its drivers and workers for free as part of its efforts to minimize COVID-19 transmissions even as businesses expand operations to stimulate the economy.
"Handog po ito ng Manila City government sa inyo. Alam po namin na mahal ang swab test sa mga pribadong ospital. (This is the Manila City government's offering to you. We know swab tests are expensive in private hospitals.) Through our new laboratory, we can process about a thousand swab tests a day," Mayor Isko Moreno said in a tweet.
Tricycle and jeepney drivers from Baseco and Parola were the first to undergo the RT-PCR test. It was the first time that a majority of them got a swab test.
Considered the gold standard in COVID-19 testing, the RT-PCR test yields samples by inserting a long swab through the nostril to reach the back of the patient's throat. Processing the sample can only be done with the help of several machines, and results can take 2 to 7 days to process depending on the laboratory's backlog and capacity.
Workers wearing face masks and face shields observed social distancing while waiting for their turn at the swabbing station.
Other economic frontliners such as mall employees, market vendors, hotel and restaurant staff, and drivers handling public transportation will also be included in the testing initiative.