Some 10,000 individuals in five local government units in Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, three neighboring cities, and one municipality, will be tested for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from August 28 to 31.

Dubbed the “Time-Out Weekend,” the four-day strategic plan was announced by provincial and city officials led by Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, and Provincial Economic Affairs consultant Alfredo Benitez in a press conference held at the Negros Residences.

“We will request for a four-day moratorium. We are both experiencing the same problem. We hope that, together, we can come up with more solutions and strategies,” Lacson said.

“This is us being one family here.”

In response, Leonardia said: “As the governor has said, this is us being one family here. We are glad to be one with the provincial government in this.”

The response, which aims to curb the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in the province and in the city, will implement the “trace, test and treat” strategy.

“There is no magic formula being contemplated. We just have to go back to the basic pillars of tracing, testing and treating.”

“Cases in Negros Occidental and Bacolod have been rising in the past few weeks. The case doubling time of both these areas are among the highest in Region 6 (Western Visayas). This is why the leaders came to an agreement that we have to do something. There is no magic formula being contemplated. We just have to go back to the basic pillars of tracing, testing and treating,” Benitez said.

As of August 21, Bacolod has 651 confirmed cases while Negros Occidental, which covers 12 component cities and 19 municipalities, has already 894 cases.

To be implemented through a special task force, the “Time-Out Weekend” will target symptomatic patients and their close contacts in the cities of Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, and Bago, and the municipality of Murcia.

Benitez said the consumables such as testing kits will be provided by the national government at an estimated cost of P35 million.

Identified individuals will be swabbed for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for free.

These will include 5,000 persons from Bacolod, who will undergo swabbing on August 28and 29.

The other 5,000 will all come from cities of Talisay, Silay and Bago, and Murcia town, who will be swabbed on August 30and 31.

Lockdowns will be imposed in each local government unit (LGU) on the days the swab tests will be conducted, Benitez said.

He added that more individuals will also be tested in other cities and towns in Negros Occidental after the “Time-Out Weekend” in the five LGUs is done.

The swab samples will be processed in five molecular bio-laboratories, including four in Bacolod and one in Negros Occidental, and will be released in 24 hours.

In Bacolod, the COVID-19 laboratories are hosted by the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, The Doctors’ Hospital, Bacolod Queen of Mercy Hospital, and the Philippine Red Cross Bacolod City-Negros Occidental Chapter.

The provincial government has its own laboratory at the Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City.


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