SPDA Chief: Health protocols in Davao, Zambo difficult and expensive

By Celestino B. Siglos, Ed.D.

Abdulghani ‘Gerry’ Ajul Salapuddin

DAVAO CITY

Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Abdulghani ‘Gerry’ Ajul Salapuddin said the new and enhanced health protocols in Zamboanga City and Davao Region (Region XI) are making travel and reporting for work more difficult and expensive.

Salapuddin had expressed this view following reports that returning residents, tourists, and non-authorized persons outside residence (Apor) who will enter Davao Region will now be required to secure a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result, according to a joint resolution of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (RIATF) and Regional Task Force Against Covid-19 (RTF).

In a joint RIATF-RTF-Davao Resolution 01 series of 2021 dated May 3, 2021, the body had already approved the uniform guidelines to regulate entry and exit in regional borders in Region XI to regulate movements “as an additional and preemptive measure against the surge of Covid-19 cases in the region.”

Department of the Interior and Local Government-Davao Region (DILG-XI) Director and RIATF Chair Alex Roldan said the resolution’s effectivity will depend on the executive orders that the mayors of the different Local Government Units (LGUs) will issue.

Earlier, Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco had issued Executive Order 651-2021 that mandates all inbound passengers, whether APOR or private individuals, regardless of reason or purpose of entry, including transit travelers, to present negative RT-PCR test result within 5 days from date of specimen collection, following the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in the city.

Climaco stressed that these are temporary measures designed to curb the sudden spike in cases in order to promote the health, safety, and the general welfare of the citizens. The EO took effect on April 21, 2021 and shall remain enforced until otherwise lifted, amended or superseded.

Over his dismay, SPDA Administrator Abdulghani Ajul Salapuddin said the swab and saliva test results are only good for five days and they are not free medical procedures.

Not only that, he added, they are very expensive to sustain on the part of the ordinary travelers like the employees of SPDA since they are paying for it every time they travel.

Reliable sources disclosed that corona virus saliva testing is priced at P2,000.00 per test, which is P1,800.00 cheaper than the swab testing which is pegged at P3,800.00 to P5,000.00.

Since the early days of the pandemic, clinicians and researchers had been looking for alternatives to nasopharyngeal swabs. While samples collected from swabs were considered the gold standard in terms of generating accurate results.

These tests had required more supplies, placed health care workers in closer contact with potentially infected individuals, and were difficult to scale up for mass testing.

Saliva on the other hand, had been put forth as a low-cost, easy alternative, but it’s efficacy and accuracy remain points of contention.

Even as large universities have begun rolling out ambitious, saliva-based initiatives on campuses across the United States, private companies looking to develop rapid, in-home diagnostic tests had moved away from such tools.

Trials of saliva-based testing being deployed in the field had yielded mixed results, and it remains unknown under what conditions saliva is most useful or how best it can be rolled into the existing testing framework. PR

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